Fresh off the writing table at the Tom Sexton base camp in Alaska, here’s a poem that Tom says is exact in each detail. He and his wife, Sharyn, recently did a road trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Delta Junction and around to Lake Louise. Like Robert Frost picking up burrs on his walks in New England fields, Tom picked up this poem along the way. Tom, as our regular readers know, is retired from longtime teaching at University of Alaska and editing Alaska Quarterly Review. He served a term as Poet Laureate of Alaska some years back. He is in the Lowell High School Alumni Hall of Fame with many other notables from the city. We are always happy to feature his work on the blog. He has a poem forthcoming in the first issue of The Lowell Review, due this summer, a literary magazine spinning off this blog.
Kathleen’s Pigeon, South Fairbanks
by Tom Sexton
One of the Irish who came north
to work on the pipeline and never left,
she’s still blond and steel-eyed,
tougher than nails except for her heart.
She’s throwing bread to the neighborhood
flock of feral pigeons while we talk;
some of her Irish soda bread,
the best west of the River Shannon,
its secret being caraway seeds
she saves for the pure-black pigeon, the one
with a little white at the tip of each wing.
I watch as it avoids the morning scrum
by standing slightly off to one side.
“Something saintly about her,” she sighs.