Brood Nest in Traffic Cone by Mary Elizabeth Parker

Comes whole and clear into the eye
the sine curve of an upright pigeon

sat like a totem (pigeon head, pigeon eye unmoving)
on an orange traffic cone

upright in the bed of a utility truck,
the truck curving (whitely as water

against the curve of a porcelain sink)
through the parking lot of this fast-food place

where flies wash their heads like penitents.
The bird does not alter stance

(its wings the shining contained riot
color of mother-of-pearl)

as the truck—gray bird still wedded to orange cone—
lumbers juddering onto the street and bears

the nesting bird away. Not seen
if the driver’s fat tanned arm out the window

is attached to a man who knows
gestation attempts persevere

on an orange cone behind his head,
a man whose daughter, six maybe,

this morning jumped off the porch
on her way to school and maybe caught the glint

of the pinpoint eye
focused only on brooding; saw

the funny bird sitting a funny nest
in her daddy’s power-truck

he drove home illegally after a hard day—
and she knew for pretty much certain the egg

couldn’t thrive if unbalanced from cone—
but if she told him would the bird be

routed with a swat (Or could it be
maybe he knows his gray jewel

and drives stately all day like a Brinks tout—
the possibility of egg given

what she had no word for: grace?)
Mary Elizabeth Parker’s essay “Combat Boots” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry collections include The Sex Girl, Urthona Press, and four chapbooks: Miss Havisham In Winter, FutureCycle Press; Cave-Girl, Finishing Line Press; Breathing In a Foreign Country, Paradise Press, and That Stumbling Ritual, Coraddi Publications, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her poems have appeared in journals including Iowa Review, Notre Dame Review, Gettysburg Review, New Letters, Arts & Letters, Confrontation, Madison Review, Phoebe, Passages North, and Greensboro Review (nominated for a Pushcart Prize); and in Earth and Soul, an anthology published in English and Russian in the Kostroma region of Russia. She is creator and chair of the Dana Awards in the Novel, Short Fiction, and Poetry.