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Geffrey Davis

What I Mean When I Say Roller Pigeon

The reason behind this breed’s mid-air acrobatics
splits its admirers: evasion evolution or neural defect?

. . . though they agree on the sanctity
of that tight, feathered backspin.

Whatever the catalyst—feint against
the ghostly hawk, against the sudden spec-

tacular falcon, or the brain’s spotty electric
refusal to soar—I could imagine an addiction

to that falling away. Enter ERROR of desire.
Enter FATHER with the wild roller pigeons

he caught beneath highway overpasses. I held
a flashlight as he bagged them at night,

as he spread the sheen of their wings under the glow,
in love with the way they gave themselves

over to that plummet—and then, just as easy,
their return to the flock’s steady orbit.

I stayed close to my father’s hip when
fanciers warned him of breeding

for the fall, of mating his deepest rollers together
so he could witness those long twists

down to earth—how our obsessions can turn
the miracle against itself.

That first, fated dive to make impact with a rooftop
sounded so much smaller than I expected—

and the silence that followed, barely there: two or three
beats before my father began his panicked

come home-clap, urging that crumpled star to struggle
back into the open arms of the air.

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