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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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