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I was inspired to write this piece after reading Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins and illustrated by David Allen Sibley. This poem captures a scene I witnessed in July while visiting Victoria, Canada. This version of the poem benefits from the feedback of local first readers JG and JH.
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On a stretch of grass in Victoria’s public park
not far from the statue of Queen Elizabeth
once beheaded by vandals, I watch as a little boy
suddenly bolts from his strolling parents to hassle
one of the resident peacocks, a mature male
with a long lavish tale trailing behind him,
an armada of steadfast eyes. The boy aims one
of his sneakers to stomp on feathers, misses, so spits
at the rump of the bird who sidles away quickly
in peace, but the child follows and spits again.
In silence the peacock scuttles off, perhaps
too accustomed to insurrections to cry out
or claw or peck at an ankle, or perhaps seeking refuge
in those trees I passed in front of The Empress,
soft weeping sequoias, imported, limp like flags.
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by Therese L. Broderick
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