Douglas Van Gundy

Las Palomas

	In the film that is this morning
	a young man walks from the dirt road
	across the clear blue Mexican desert
	and into the abandoned rail station. He sits
	on a bench worn smooth and nearly-black by use
	and places an army-surplus shoulder bag
	on the seat beside him. From the bag he withdraws
	a slim tan journal in which he begins to write.
	Behind the station, and to the left,
	a plume of dust marks the retreat
	of the pickup truck that dropped him here.

	The tile floor is deep with guano
	and the rafters are crowded with palomas,
	"pigeons" turned beautiful
	by the soul-kiss of Latino tongues.
	Las Polomas have no short-term memory,
	soon after the young man sits down, they resume
	their isolated routine of preening and cooing.
	When after nearly an hour, he sneezes,
	the birds leap into flight as if one body, one being
	and they swirl around the building in whirling flight,
	the pigeon closest to the center barely beating a wing,
	those on the outer edge flapping for all that they're worth
	just to keep up with the flock.

	Spooked, they will not return to the station
	but will instead settle into the open window
	of an abandoned warehouse across the tracks...
	that is, all but one.
	This pigeon floats toward the feet of the man on the bench
	before settling lightly to the ground. This pigeon
	unfolds his spindly black legs into grey linen trousers
	tucks his wings into black jacket sleeves
	and sits down on the bench, careful to keep the shoulder bag
	between himself and the young man,
	who now appears more and more like a boy.

	"Hombre," says the pigeon man, "There hasn't been
	a train through here in sixty-two years,
	I doubt you're going to catch one today.
	You'll have better luck riding your thumb
	back to the dirt road, eh?"
	The young man nods.
	The pigeon man nods too,
	then rises from the bench
	and lights in the high silent rafters.