The Student Literary Journal of Northern Vermont University

King Street


When I drive by three children
Beating a pigeon with sticks,
I stop, no thought
Other than arresting aggression.

When I shout
Their movements shock to stillness;
Weapons raised
Small faces turn to me.

The bird staggers
Wings outstretched.

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.

The damage
Too profound.
Late night and sleep is nowhere.
The children’s eyes, their laughter,
A harmless creature killed for a pastime
After school.

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.