MudSong Nine: Beak to beak

 

Two Pigeons
— Mary Jo Salter

They’ve perched for hours
on that window-ledge, scarcely
moving. Beak to beak,

a matched set, they differ
almost imperceptibly—
like salt and pepper shakers.

It’s an event when they tuck
(simultaneously) their pinpoint
heads into lavender vests

of fat. But reminiscent
of clock hands blandly
turning because they must

have turned—somehow, they’ve
taken on the grave,
small-eyed aspect of monks

hooded in conferences
so intimate nothing need
be said. If some are chuckling

in the park, earning
their bread, these are content
to let the dark engulf them—

it’s all the human
imagination can fathom,
how single-mindedly

mindless two silhouettes
stand in a window thick
as milk glass. They appear

never to have fed on
anything else when they stir
all of a sudden to peck

savagely, for love
or hygiene, at the grimy
feathers of the other;

but when they resume
their places, the shift
is one only a painter

or a barber (prodding a chin
back into position)
would be likely to notice.

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