ON THE MYSTERIOUS NOISE OUT OF VIEW OF THE BEDROOM WINDOW
by Anne Price
I’ve decided it’s pigeons, not squirrels or worse,
responsible for the ruckus—
pigeons and some kind of metal fencing,
chain link, jangling under what must be
a half dozen of them every morning doing
who knows what. Rabid copulation?
Is some perverse neighbor dangling feed
just out of their reach? Whatever it is, it finishes
for all of them at once. On turkey hunts,
my father liked to point out dust bowls,
having me kneel to see, his hand just
skimming the bowl’s lip, where a tom had rolled itself
clean, where the stiff-spined wing feathers
and hooked spurs had brushed and scored the dirt
as if needing to mark the place
red earth stops being earth.
He never wanted to disturb what they’d done.
He loved how he could see and not see
the bird in abandon, like the painting of Bacchus
that looks more like an imprint
of revelry than actual sex: broad blue
and grey brushstrokes implying the pile of naked bodies
and the god they prop up,
drunk and potbellied, proud to the point
of glee at what he’s made.
That’s the story. But all I could see in the museum
was a figure contorted to wrench himself
from all that flesh, the groin
twisting into the distended gut, the hands
bearing down from tensed shoulders;
and on top, where the paintbrushes
must have been the most furious,
the whitened head
like something scratched at, frenzied
as a fistful of birds, birds in all their racket—
Lord knows where I’m from, we’d march out back
in the name of mercy and shoot them.
Anne Price was born and raised in southern Louisiana but now lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, SWWIM Every Day, and The Pinch. She has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.