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FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

The Peahens, by Eloise Klein Healy

April 19, 1998

River noise replacements have appeared.

Massive rumble of the freeway

in the afternoon. Truck going down

through its gears. Helicopter cutting a circle.

Across the street the black-and-white dotted

dog some call Daisy or Droopy or Bonnie

looks like a cow grazing on the steep lawn.

That's where the peahens stood so still

the day one of them walked in front

of a car. Her wings hushed in air

and whacked on the pavement

and a thick red river of blood pooled

like red tar on the asphalt.

Her sisters stood like frightened girls

or stone statues. They ignored the wake

of bread bits and birdseed I set out.

They didn't venture onto the street

much after that. Then someone shot one

from its perch. One was stolen. One's left.

I hear her calling over the rush of wind

in the avocado tree.

From "Grand Passion: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond," edited by Suzanne Lummis and Charles Webb (Red Wing Books: 246 pp., $10.95). Healy will read her poems at the Festival of Books, Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

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