I saw you after the pigeon shoot.
Suddenly you looked so small;
how anyone could stand and shoot a bird
for the fun of it.
I saw you look around,
so full of tears,
searching through the crowd
of laughing children,
swaggering men staring at young girls
in halter tops,
and grandmotherly women
cheering the shooters on.
I saw you
looking for someone
who might care.
I heard your startled cry as you
turned to see a trapper boy on the field
bite the head off a wounded bird
and spit it out
I saw you look up to the sky.
You, whose paintings of clouds
hang in offices, homes, and galleries.
I saw you look up,
saw the forward rounding of your shoulders,
saw the slight shaking of those shoulders,
saw you look down to the ground,
and saw your tears carry the innocence of the world
to the earth below your feet.
I saw you, week after week,
month after month,
year after year,
talking to the men
in their safe, warm offices
and well-lit corridors.
I saw you telling them of the horrors
inflicted on the birds.
And a horrible death.
I saw you explaining
and dehumanizing effect
of such evil.
I saw you explain,
And I saw them turn away.
I saw you.
And so I painted the canvas black
and splattered blood red drops of paint
where your heart would be
and called it
Portrait of the Woman Who Loved Pigeons.
[Editor's Note: This poem was written about a woman who was devoted to
the cessation of the Hegins Pigeon Shoot -- Heidi Prescott, Fund For
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