What theatre-mask to wear
for the pigeon Dying,
guttered in tarnished aluminum,
a crumpled pile of fly-ash and clean smoke
half-hidden by wrought-iron guardrails;
What frenzied mummery performed
to steady your breaths, jagged, stuttered,
a near-broken engine,
slow and slowing still

reddening evening light stained
the balcony crimson, sprouted terracotta from brick, concrete
reflected your daisy-petal feathers a shade like drained flesh,
though I noticed no injury or ailment, gashes, punctures
frayed wings, calcite beak, eyes half-lidded:
whole and unbroken and beautiful and Dying

months spent in that languid gloaming
dyed scarlet, watching white-gray plumage rise
each time softer, softer

reaching warily, index finger on a smooth back, little bones,
silk sheet draped over a woodland trail
traced upward, pulse faintly shivering, once, twice

Hand steady, gargoyle in gruesome exertion,
perched for new warmth, a simple, doomed sentry;
You already abandoned that feathered Thing