Journal of Writing & Environment

“Portrait of Man as Passenger Pigeon”



after Aviary (Male Passenger Pigeon/extinct), a c-print by Sara Angelucci, 2013


The receding line of fair hair suggests

a banker, perhaps a postal clerk,


though he wears no silk or broadcloth tie

to guide us. Only, from the ears down, a skin


of feathers—gray on his face and shoulders,

rust-colored on his right breast and fading


to copper on his left, where the light hits.

Suppose he is on his lunch hour


and entered the studio on a whim,

thinking of his wife. These days,


he has little need for calling cards.

He chooses a white background,


removes his suit and pocket watch,

wanting to be captured without ornament,


as he really is. To help reveal your strong profile,

the photographer says, and so he submits


to the posing stand’s grip.

Imagine his disappointment


when he sees that his heavy lids

half-obscure his eyes.


The blurred edges of his bust

make him look—already—like a ghost.