Yen Cress

Rookie (3/9/43 / San Francisco, California)

The Pigeons' Chance - Poem by Yen Cress

Imprisoned in a cage
just large enough to stretch their wings
but too small to fly within,
they became friends.

They were each other's only, constant,
mirror-image companions.
Two lovely birds,
White as snow, gentle as snowflakes,
cooing in the morning sun,
and in the dusk,
day after warm day,
night after summer night.

But it was not to be so forever.

When the cage door was opened,
leaving them free to go,
they stayed.
Too long confined,
they did not understand
what freedom means.

Long moments
they stayed within the limits
of their galvanized mesh walls,
gazing out,
confused.

Why is the door open?
Is it an illusion?
Is it a trick?
Is it safe to even think of venturing out?
Into the garden?
Past the bougainvillea?
To the telephone wires?
To the rocky hill?
Beyond?

Should we stay?
Should we stand by the door?
Will the door once more be slammed shut?

Tentatively,
as squabs emerge from their birth-shells,
the birds stepped out,
onto the lattice-covered patio,
into the wideness of the universe.
No more latch,
no more cross-hatched view,
no more waiting.

At first they ventured
only as far as the patio's edge,
pecking seeds
that had fallen to the ground.

They looked at me with uncertain eyes,
without terror, without affection.
They did not try to go beyond
the familiar environs of their imprisonment.
What a little freedom it was!

Yet to the lovely white birds,
that little freedom
was alpha and omega.


Comments about The Pigeons' Chance by Yen Cress

  • (10/1/2007 3:14:00 AM)

    Familiarity breeds content.... I have never known caged pigeons... but I am thankful every morning to see 'my kereku pair' fly to their favourite tree of my garden. This poem startles me to the juxaposition of prison populations and debate re reformation, rehabilitation etc... Cheers for the thoughts (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 1, 2007

Poem Edited: Tuesday, April 12, 2011


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