It was back in…hell, must have been seventy-six?
Anyway, I was livin’ up around Bolton Landing
And doing some odd jobs (some very odd, indeed,
But that’s another story for another time)
At the Sagamore—big fancy hotel on Lake George—
When I started hearing people runnin’ their pie-holes
About this crazy-ass pigeon. Folks were saying
The damn bird had somehow got ahold of the idea
That it was a goddamn hawk or falcon,
Swooping down like it was after rabbits or field mice
Instead of bits of bread, and some of the old-timers
(Most likely addled by the years, or maybe having lived alone
For a little too damn long) swore on the graves
Of their dear sainted mothers that they had seen it do full-out barrel rolls.
Well, little towns are all about big talk,
So naturally I wasn’t about to put much stock
In this particular rural legend—but one day I’m walking around downtown,
And I see this chunky blue-gray blur tear-assing
Down around my pantleg for a bit before it leveled off
And started to climb, throwing in a couple of three-quarter turns
Just for shits and giggles.
I saw that damn thing do its stunt flying
Several times after that: loop-de-loops, death spirals
And a few more power dives, just to scare the women and children.
That old fool bird was pretty scuffed up and worse for wear
From its acrobatics—after all, it was just a pigeon
And it could daredevil from sunup to sundown,
But that didn’t mean it was likely to turn into no Blue Angel
The third, or maybe the fourth, time I happened to catch the bird’s act
I caught a glimpse of its head, and I swear to you,
On all I hold true and holy, the bird was…grimacing,
Like it was just plain sick and tired of all the limitations
That nature had foisted off on fat, ungainly creatures
Like itself. Some days I would walk past the old McEachern place,
And I’d see that bird perched on an old, mostly-collapsed barn
Just staring at the cloud cover hiding Mount Marcy
(Where eagles lived in the crags, breathing the rarified air
That pigeons, skimming the rooflines of strip malls, would never know.)
After a few months, folks stopped seeing the bird
And his wild-ass air show. Maybe it had been a bit slow
On the uptake while pulling out of a dive,
Or perhaps it finally came around to the notion
That a pigeon was, after all, just a pigeon, no more and no less.
Hell, maybe it set off for the High Peaks after all.
I’ve read that the ancients would read the entrails of birds
In order to tell the future, and maybe they could,
But in my book, ignoring the sweep and swoop of flight
And the mysteries of why-they-do-what
So you can ponder and mull over
The collection of bugs and gravel in its guts
Says about all I need to know about the notion of wisdom.