The poetry of Lauren Tivey

Sunset at Vail Point

The evening pond pulses with life; at water’s edge,
the ibis stills, one leg poised over its reflection,

and the great blue heron, with its ragged beard,
imperial crown feathers, is a rapt philosopher

of the flaming horizon. The ghostly egrets
lift the champagne flutes of their necks

to the vermilion sky, their chortling calls
echoing over the sewing drone of cicadas,

the raucous chorus of frogs. I watch the soft
white feathers drift into the rushes, the pool,

and it is all too much, as delicate and intricate
as a Song Dynasty scroll, and I ache at the beauty,

this gift of existence, for there were many years
my eyes were closed, isolated, wrapped in layers

of personal agony. A sudden flash across my vision:
white wings, a delight of hot pink underneath–

deepest crimson at the base, flushing to fuchsia,
magenta, bubblegum, blush; a rare bird settling

onto a weathered cypress relic. Wonder
upon wonder, as dusk flares its finale.




The Pigeons

It’s 1974: in the photograph I crouch in a swirl of grey,
under the dreary buildings of Trafalgar Square, surrounded
by a flock of busy pigeons. I’m towheaded, wearing a pink
crocheted poncho, which flares around me, thrusting me
into the foreground, although my back is toward the camera.

Pedestrians, drab blurs, whisk by, while the birds swipe
and swoosh across a cement-colored sky. In this cauldron
of energy, movement, my motionless figure; it’s a strange,
melancholy shot of a seven year old, but then again, I was
a gloomy, contemplative child, only interested in books,

nature, given to closing off, as my mother phrased it,
in her frustration, when I wouldn’t open to interact
with others. Embarrassed, she would explain to them,
she’s in her own little world again, always apologizing
for my odd behavior, lack of social skills. I only wanted

to be left alone. I remember the pigeons bubbling, cooing,
angling their soft, striped heads toward me, the way their
little pink feet tottered on the stones, the rustling taffeta
of their wings as they burst into the air, how charming
and astonishing their assemblage, how perfect the swoop

of their aeronautics. On the back of the faded, dog-eared photo,
in my mother’s flawless penmanship, only: Lauren, 1974
Trafalgar Square
. Inscrutable to her as ever, I’ve at least
learned to smile, nod in polite company, to emerge and engage,
subduing my churning, roaring mind, which ever waits for flight.

Lauren Tivey is a Pushcart nominated poet of three chapbooks, most recently The Breakdown Atlas & Other Poems. Her work has appeared in The Coachella ReviewSplit Lip Magazine, and Third Wednesday, among dozens of other publications. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Flagler College, in St. Augustine, Florida.


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