“Pigeons” by Laura Madeline Wiseman

“Weighty Mantle” by Jane Cornish Smith, encaustic, oil, ink, glue, paper, 2014.

Birds still turn through bridge stays, streetways, city parks. Their
wings glitter iridescent,  eyes flash red,  heads nod with footfalls.
Did  anyone  know  what  was  coming?  Other  warriors  bound
messages to bird legs, sent  these messengers aloft  with code,
but  the  notes  arrived  late.  Buildings hit.  Bricks burned yellow
through the night.  Buried  in  the wreckage of  another bombing,
bodies crushed or lived on.


Some eat them. Others shoot them in sport. Some governments
rear  young falcons  to  dine  on those who infest cities.  I’ve read
about them,
you said while standing inside the sill on the top floor
of a hotel.  Outside  the  thick glass,  one feasted  on  what she’d
splayed,  something  bloodied,  feather  tangled,  talon  shredded,
young. Beyond the dreamhole,  her meal,  bodies of skyscrapers,
somewhere  the  field still swayed  with wind.  Another for my life
you said because  counting birds mattered then (eagle, stork,
pigeon, dove).  Could this fold be the welcome?  Could you count
again what’s good?


Drawn one knee up.  Support  hip (blanket, block, towel).  Rotate
femur. Un-sickle the ankle.  Stretch  piriformis, then sciatic nerve.
Un-clinch jaw. Fold forward. Stack fists or wrists. Place forehead
there, or if it’s in today’s practice, the floor.  Breathe. Push up into
variation  ( prayer twist,  bow leg,  shoulder opener ).  Return to a
full expression.  The matter  isn’t  more effort,  but  to  effort  less.
Memories, emotions, old wounds arrive. In the class some sniffle
against what burns or aches. Some keep silence. You remember
the story,  what you tell yourself about what you did,  the meaning
you ascribe.  But  rather than being caught,  you  follow sensation
inward, first to the body, then to the breath.  Press forehead to the
mat. Let the weight of the spine ease. Come out slowly.  Push up.
Shake hips free. Then, find the pose on the second side to create
balance.  Remember the cues, alignment prompts.  Energy flows
where  awareness goes. 
Release  the notes  of warning.  There’s
awareness of  the story now—finally.  Wings outstretched,  you’re
here among kings opening to the stillness.



Laura Madeline Wiseman teaches writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the editor of two anthologies, Bared and Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Book List. She is the recipient of 2015 Honor Book Nebraska Book Award, Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy of American Poets Award. Her book Drink won the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is Velocipede (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports.