Oj Golube, Moj Golube
I was born to pigeons cooing.
Was the war over then? Not sure,
officially maybe yes, but Mama
gave birth in a windowless hospital.
And by windowless, I mean the windows
had been shattered by bullets or shrapnel,
so the draft almost killed all of us.
The pregnancy ward was one room,
beds like soldiers on the front line,
babies like bullets aimed at the next
one hundred years. I asked Mama
if she thought she was going to die.
She said the pigeons were everywhere,
and everything smelled bad. I asked
if anyone died. She said not everyone
noticed this big pigeon in the corner,
gray and blue, mora da je majka, poised
and happy. Warm. Sometimes I think
I hear cooing, a sort of calling home.
It’s as if the pigeons remember
Mama holding me til a nurse took me
because Mama was coughing, sick.
Both of us lived. It had to have been
the pigeons. They were our peace treaties,
our ceasefires. One time a man told me
every pigeon you see is a prayer—svaki
golub je molitva—and it made me wonder
if Mama ever saw any pigeons at all.