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The pigeons here purr. They don't coo--coo like an infant coos, or

cries, before it learns its words, or its way in the world--a string

of whys and whos: the inquisitive mind, so often confused--which

is what I was, by the birds' odd sounds--sorrowful, echoing off

the rocks behind my room. But actually, it makes sense, considering

how close they roost to that woman's house--the great artist's muse,

the weeping woman, her portraits rendered so vividly by the one who

loved and abused her. The other morning, I came home and found

a bird trapped in the house--a window left open. Not only are the


sounds different here, their color is too: they are black, which gives


the look of cormorants, except without the hook-like neck; or crows,

except without the thirst for meat. The panicked black bird slammed

itself against the windows, and more desperately once it sensed I was

nearby. I couldn't help thinking of that woman, driven mad in the house

he'd bought for her to suffer in--she came to mind as the hollow bones

clattered against the glass, and again, when I caught it--the bird


between my palms, making the shape of a bullet, and fell silent: no


no cry, no coo. I threw it into the air where it broke into a staggered


and landed on a rocky shelf, peering down at me with its beet-red eyes,

wet-looking and defiant; daring me to steal its plight for my art.

This poem originally ran in the November 27, 2006 issue of the magazine.