Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pigeon Remembers

Running down the hill to find the ducks
One day they left the house with the pond out back and never went home again. There were days of boxes piled high, crowding the corners; strangers came to take away the big things, leaving a wad of cash in Mother's hand and an empty space on the wall, the floor.

So we can buy some new things when we get where we're going, she said, tucking the bills away.

But if they'd gotten there, Pigeon wasn't sure. So far, they hadn't bought much, but they did have a few walls around them and lots of space to run in circles where a table and chairs should be. There was a landing to share with the neighbors. Down the stairs and through a concrete maze lined with aloe and cacti, past a lemon (a lime? an orange?) tree, was a pool. Father would take him to swim there at night; the days were too hot to play out in the sun. Here the world was pink, and lime-green, with purple rock, and orange and brown; fringes of yellow and splashes of violet here and there, bursts of magenta along the ridges of pancake-shaped prickly pear paddles. Black-bronze mountains rose high on the horizon. There were beautiful things in the desert, but they were not his beautiful, small things.

Desert vista

Pigeon missed the ducks. He mentioned them daily to Mother in gasping breathes: Ducks! Ducks! Bread! Bread! He'd pound his fist to his chin, to remind her how they would feed them stale crumbs in the spring at the edge of the pond. Shoo! Shoo! Go! he'd shout, never forgetting how Mother would run at them, hollering, to scare them off the patio when they grew too familiar. Pigeon remembered all of these little things from his days. He missed them.

Old friends

Mother felt things about this that she couldn't say. She let him remember, remembering with him. These were the things she'd meant to write down in this space. Yes, at our old house... She'd smile and nod. Maybe, at our new house, she'd say, trying to sound convincing. It was, after all, possible. Anything's possible. Never say never; don't grow too familiar. Spread your wings over your ducklings and shepherd them with you. Make a home there, and all will be well.