A Haibun :: On Pigeons, Parks, and Ponderings

Jennifer Schneider

I sit on a metal bench in the middle of a park near the corner of 18th and Spring Garden and play games of Don’t Blink with a city pigeon and its two webbed feet. I don’t know why the pigeon visits me each night -- in the rotational darkness of my dreams. A blend of gray clouds and turpentine streams. Shortly after I’ve consumed my nightly slice of Wonder(with Country Crock) and a side of Chamomile tea. My block-built quilt (patchwork and pilled) a likely target. Evening shades of lavender percolate. Flavors of fuchsia frame memories. Unexpected pops of boysenberry cream serve no utility. Happenstance as likely an answer as habit. Everyone eats. 

Perhaps the pigeon wonders the same about the souls in rubber soles, of which I am one, in the park each day at noon. Armed with a tower of Wonder and a side of jam. Traffic and congestion gargle. Sea-turned-city gulls squawk. The regulars weave reports. Compulsively, block by block. News of war. Sports stats. As Earth rotates Sun and Moon orbits Earth, spherical balls of steel make plays on words. Debates on cheesesteaks and winter habitats. Critiques of primetime specials and specials of the day. Soup as much a carousel of characters as the City Hall residents. Habits persist in cotton and wool hues of purples, reds, and blues. Fabric dyed of lemonade yellow, nectarine orange, and Kelly green. Most of us, including the pigeon, leave by dusk. 

At night, I sleep under a quilt of many nations. Come day, I sit atop a bench of many guilts. Torn denim knees. Quilted puffers. Rotating mixes of plaid vests and cranberry shackets. Converse high-tops (faded red, laces tattletale gray) dangle from a nearby weeping willow. Limbs settle. Majestic layers of life and longing tango with birch brown bark and leaves of greenish-yellow. Envy and origins concealed. Pigeon-talk blends like primary colors. Rainbows welcome. The pigeon, dressed in oversized feathers (iridescent) and undersized feet (matte-finish), waddles. Navigates charcoal gravel and Birkenstock-weighted gaits. I wait amidst a setting of po(i)cket games and prime numbers. Ambience percolates, then ponders, the peculiarity of patience. 

I watch the pigeon peck a few yards from the sewer’s metal grates. In this city of many firsts, I wonder if it realizes where it walks. Wads of Wonder, Ziplocs untucked, offer nourishment. Tea leaves (Oolong, Green, and Earl Grey) yield encouragement in (and from) bite-sized pockets. Souls in rubber soles sit while stuffed of weather and wonderings. Feathers and hankerings. Winter comes earlier each year it seems. Each of us hungry. Each of us bait. The pigeon waits.

I don’t know why the pigeon visits me each night -- in the rotational darkness of my dreams. Perhaps the pigeon wonders the same. I wake, wash, dress, then wander to the city park. My routine as predictable as a poorly choreographed potluck. The metal bench, its latitude and longitude unknown, is perched just beneath the weeping willow. Owner of the Converse hi-tops undisclosed. Odd birds in an odd city. A city haunted of dreams and destiny. One we call home. 

crumbs of Wonder bread
weave quilts of dreams and wonder
in a Philly park

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