Alley Bird

A poem

Ben Human
Imogene’s Notebook
May 25, 2024


A pigeon sits above a shuttered window against a faded pink limestone building on Campo de Fiori in Rome, Italy
Photo by Casey Lovegrove on Unsplash

In a glistening lot
in the sun and rain,
ruinous outages
across the prefecture,
this archetypal maiden crone
comes out of the alleyway
and stands there, forgetting,
birdlike and ancient,
with skin like dusted leather
and hair as white as the bone desert sky.

My daughter would say something now
like she’ll probably just die tonight,
not of gradually fading faster,
but something banal entirely,
like exposure, after the fact,
at home.

I know I’ll be thinking
of her muted imploration
to talk to m’sieur,
and her still pretty shoulders
as she sits, part-clothed,
at her magically starry
bedside tonight.

Written in response to Debra G. Harman, MEd.’s poetry prompt & competition, Starry Night writing prompt.