Original Poetry

“The Pigeon”

by Anne Sophie Eizayaga

He has been with us for weeks, the pigeon,
a sojourner blown off course who bedded
down in our street for a night, then content
to stay, whiled the morning away pecking
our grass, trailing his feet through the gutters, drawing
our eyes to peek around blinds, around curtains, curious
at his aloneness.
He should be bobbing and chortling in some
cobblestone alley, or dragging the refuse
of wrappers along a greasy Manhattan street—
bobblehead scavenger, built for dense crowds
and scaling walls upon walls of noise
with a flurry of effortful flight.
Here, he is impossible to take seriously.
Every morning he struts our bright green lawns like a peacock’s drab nephew,
unaware of his own deficiency,
totally unselfconscious. Does he not know
how awkward this is for him, how funny for us?
A new neighbor, we snicker under our breath
then toss him handfuls of crumbs, which he ignores
while nevertheless persisting to hunt good-naturedly for grubs,
bobbing along like a tame domestic chicken.
Only once did he shy at the neighbor’s dog—
a toffee-colored mutt—whose wet
muzzle got a bit too close. He startled
and burst up, wheeling off with laborious wings.
But he came back.
Now, each night, he leaves, then at dawn he is back,
a beggar who takes no bread,
a curious character we cannot
frighten, oblige, or dictate.
Does this seem like a tenable way to live?
He has no flock, no discernible home, he is like
the wanderer who has stumbled upon a half-suitable land
and refuses to either leave or settle down,
keeping his bags packed, the donkey saddled,
in hopes of being offered something neither worse nor better.
Shoo! we tease him. Fly on home
to your buddies!
But who are we
to tell him he has overstayed a welcome
when we have offered no welcome and
each day nevertheless he returns like an
insistent straggler
or voiceless prophet?

Anne-Sophie Eizayaga (née Olsen) is a native of St. Paul, MN but lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry and writing have appeared in a number of publications, including Birdcoat Quarterly, Dappled Things, and the St. Austin Review. She was named Runner-up for the 2022 Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets. Her cat’s name is Pip.

header image: illustration of a pigeon, public domain

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One Comment

  • Tom King

    Anne-Sofie, our pain in our woods is a “murder” of crows, For one thing they sing off-key. The good news crow-disliker is they can only count to 12, So if 13 hunters go into the crows’ woods, the crows don’t know that one hunter remains.

    Personally, I gave up yelling at them. But I don’t like their robbing the robins’ nests, and others as well.

    That said, we need to tolerate each other.

    Thanks for your fine poem on pigeons, another group of birds who have found a way to live on the Foshay Tower here….and even higher elsewhere.

    Cheers and….keep up your fine “poeming.”

    Still a St. Pauline,

    Dr. Tom King, Emeritus
    University of St. Thomas
    School of Education

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