Dusk upon a wood porch in a migrant hostel

by Peter Davis

the hypotenuse of my father thinking
with a pigeon perched upon his head
the angled neck of a humble smiling man 
I love him and I’m still young enough to tell him so 

often we are a family in this Migrant Hostel
the pigeon and its grassy songs of innocence
dad so old he knows to allow himself
to become a perch for a pigeon 

so humble the way he bends his head
to be a perfect perch 
he is the angle of the sky 
falling with a sigh and an ancient truth 
that we must all sit still in our waiting and allow 
a bird’s soul to land upon our nit-shaven heads 

Dad says the holy spirit is a scruffy pigeon today
and that I‘m a single breath my dad once took
when he and mum created me on the other side of the world
it was a collective breath of one thousand Vietnamese souls
who are now all contained within my gold-flecked fingers and
my swimming-pool eyes that you say are pure-cool dreams 

hey dad you make me laugh and you make the bird sleepy
sitting on this splintery porch under a floodlight
in the green air a dim electricity and dampness
hey dad let me sketch your thirty years of swaying faces
your so old dad that you even survived a whole war 
you say that I can touch the pigeon’s tail while it sleeps
and your old neck knows discomfort is a small illusion
compared to honour of being a perch
for heavenly wings at rest  

Dad tell me again about the pigeons you kept in Vietnam
how you hid with them safely under the willow trees
by the  Dong Nai River as the sky filled with blood again
and the sound of bombs was like furniture breaking
inside your head and then you kissed mum 100 times
in a row to make her smile swell-up like a delta raincloud

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