They are always returning, who have lost
The grace of migration and fall
Like the weak of spirit:
These birds I have so much and little to do with.
And because they fly with their wings
Open in the shapes of Vs and are greyer
Than the buildings that surround them, their glamour is
They cannot be beautiful.
Rank and file, metallic colored,
Given to displays of public sex and unashamed begging,
They march like dolts
And have no knees in their legs.
It is only when the flock assembles into a formation
That circles some shabby storm of crumbs,
Or when it rises, that they wobble
And become (together) a great beast that astonishes—
Not with the daring colors of caged birds—
But with a barbaric applause
That circles in backgrounds of days
Abandoned to the seasons.
Along with the cat and the dog,
Along with the rat and the house fly, we took them with us—
A storm of wings, like the storied-lives of falling children—
Out of Eden,
And this is why they bear the leaden names
We have named them,
For "pigeon" was the first word that came to mean Nothing
In the mouth of Adam:
That sound he drew over his tongue
To ward off menageries of shame,
And "squab" is the sound a child makes
When he first learns there is death:
A hushed glottal coughing
As if his throat were closing,
And the grey angel he sees approaching
Comes down to land in chassis of stone.