Beating a pigeon with sticks,
I stop, no thought
Other than arresting aggression.
When I shout
Their movements shock to stillness;
Small faces turn to me.
The bird staggers
I reach for it, telling tiny
Barbarians this cruelty is wrong;
One of them, suspicious,
Is this your bird?
I return his stare.
They run, screeching and laughing
While tenderly I lift the soft body.
A nearby vet graciously receives
My gift but of course
It is too late.
Late night and sleep is nowhere.
The children’s eyes, their laughter,
A harmless creature killed for a pastime
Beside me, moonlight rests,
Whispering of cosmic mysteries
Galaxies spiral, stars burn, glow.
I turn away, mind thick
With the fragility of beauty
And a fluttering, dull rage.
A sore spot thrumming below the skin’s surface
Spins thin tendrils of unending ache.
PEGGY G. HAMMOND TK