FOR THE BIRDS

ERIN KIRSH

 
 

An albino pigeon inspects the remains of a napkin
on the patio while I look at adoptable animals online.
A revolving cast of toque wearing student
baristas shuffle in and out like moon phases, and when
I look up from badly named dogs on the internet,
the youth behind the counter is different from the one
who took my order. The table outside is bussed,
the napkin deposited into the garbage. The pigeon
flies off, seeking a building without pigeon spikes
in lieu of a tree, since we keep cutting those down
to build condos. Five trees were cut down outside
my mother’s building this week, her neighbour Mary,
90, cried, she says it’s like killing someone, like people,
these healthy trees, and my mother agrees, and I
wonder where we expect the pigeons to go if we keep
bracing our buildings with defenses against them
and we keep murdering trees for our condos. Sky rats,
people call pigeons, without noticing the pearlescent
sheen of purple and green on their feathers, the dapper
greys, a beautiful pallete swatch, don’t appreciate
an animal who can bear to be around us. Online, a dog named
Melancholy catches my eye, he’s at the shelter in Haida Gwaii.
I wonder who names a dog Melancholy, and if I should
adopt a dog when I can’t afford the round trip flight
to the shelter, and the thought aligns me more deeply
with the ill-named dog, half Golden Retriever, half Saint
Bernard, wholly Melancholy. I would call him Mel,
tell people that I named him after Mel Brooks, a man
who makes people laugh, who isn’t one of those
standard depressed comedians like I am. When I leave
the coffee house, I look for the albino pigeon, but it looks
like he has found somewhere else to perch, like he has
been more resourceful than I have to get the things he needs.

 

 
 

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