September 11, 2016
On the sidewalk outside the food coop, gray red-footed
pigeons dip their beaks, picking up crumbs from
gluten-free muffins with the speed and efficiency of
a good typist. Discarded cellophane wrappers
scratch along the sidewalk in the dry wind.
The pigeons stride to their next morsel, heads bobbing
back and forth on short necks, expressions dim, poker-
faced. They remind me of the barnyard hens I tended
for Grandpa, Mom’s dad, back in Minnesota. After we
moved west, near Seattle, Grandpa held on a few more
indifferent years, but my mom was reborn, re-spirited.
I remember how she used to feed wildlife outside
our home: raccoons, deer, feral cats, pintail ducks,
great blue herons, even eagles. A decade before her
death, she began to pray for rain during
long dry spells. “The animals suffer,” she would say.
Like St. Francis, she often carried a small bird
in her open palm. She prayed, waited, and rejoiced
when the deluge began. I miss her strength, her
loving ministrations to the earth, her belief
that was deeper than superstition. I miss her in this
moment as I hear distant waters gathering, see pigeons
eating crumbs on another warm, cloudless day.
. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Rick Hermann. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.