Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Walter, Homing Pigeon
A few days back I was in Asbury Park, at an outdoor cafe on the boardwalk with my father, brother, sister-in-law, and niece. I'd come down to meet them for the afternoon, and while we were waiting for the check to appear, a pigeon stepped up to the table. He was an especially handsome pigeon, which made me wonder why we treat pigeons like crap. My eleven-year-old niece stood, stomped at the pigeon, chasing him away, which made me say, "Jordan, don't do that." I was startled that those words had come out of my mouth. I hadn't remembered when I'd last said, "No! or "Stop it!" or "Enough!" to anyone, much less my sweet niece, in years, and for a moment time swelled as if I'd slipped into a slow motion movie of myself. I watched myself and saw myself shrink to a focused bead of light.
But here's the best thing: once I said it, Jordan looked. I looked. We talked about the pigeon. We talked about the iridescent green of his throat, the violet shield around that patch, the hot pink feet, bright as bubble gum. We took note of the bands around his two legs (legs? do pigeons even have legs?) and then the waitress came out to say, "That's Walter. He's a homing pigeon. He's made his home here. Isn't he beautiful?" And all eyes turned to Walter, who stepped not one inch from my foot, unafraid. And I don't think I'm lying when I say for just that minute Walter turned to light.
Jordan kayaking at Anchorage Point