Jenna Le

Urban Dovecote

Down in the radiology department,
half-underground, our workroom was endowed
with one high slit-like window that looked out
upon a lightless air shaft. Pigeons darted
back and forth in the little space beyond
this dull glass pane: from time to time, we heard
their throaty burring, mixed with an absurd
cacophony of wings when they’d compound
their tarnish-colored bodies vertically
in mating clinches, which we always laughed
to glance up from our weighty work to see,
the male bird teetering on his meeker half’s
fluffed shoulder feathers, his frenetic speed
aligning with his carpe-diem creed.


Before homo sapiens, the woods on this hill
were thick as a young bride’s wedding-night-tangled hair,
coronet of sunlight bedazzling
a canopy miles above moist earth,

oaks and elms boasting giant bodies
like the colossal lobsters of myth,
jurassic and jewel-blue,
whose castle-like carapaces

saturated the Atlantic
before modern fishermen
with their machines
came and combed those cold currents clean.

Family Photo

The burp cloth dangling from my hand
has long white folds that dominate
the picture. I am gazing straight
at something out of frame; I stand
with body pointed to one side,
the way that teenage girls are taught
to pose so that they don’t look “fat”
in prom group photos. Caught shut-eyed,
mop-haired, you simper at my left
and clutch our baby so the cleft
between the buttons on her romper
creates a crescent at her crotch
that draws the eye. The snapshot’s botched,
of course—yet we were never happier.

JENNA LE is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), and Manatee Lagoon (Acre Books, 2022). She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition.


Author’s Website
Poem in Westchester Review
Poem in Ecotone
Poem in Literary Matters