Acuity

Two pigeons perched on the telephone rope strung over the canyon between two telephone poles chipped and weathered and the color of pale sand. In the canyon the man opened the door for the woman, and when she was inside he went around the car and drove them away from the nursery. The pigeons watched them drive toward the beach, where the scrubland became dunes.

“She’s not going to save his soul,” said the first pigeon.

“I think they’re past that point,” said the second pigeon. “I think he drove down here to see her garden because he likes it. And the ocean.”

“The ocean’s cheap,” said the first pigeon.

“Love is not,” said the second pigeon.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the first pigeon.

“Maybe I do and maybe I don’t, but I’ll tell you what I think. How many times has he driven down here to stare at her cacti, and how many times have they had coffee by the window?”

“I would say…” The first pigeon considered. “Five times.”

“He is not searching for someone to save his soul,” said the second pigeon. “Both of them are too old for that now. I grant that he’s taking the long way around, but he is in love with her work, and it is impossible to extricate the good works of a woman from the stuff of her soul. Therefore, she has a good soul, and he wants to keep it near him.”

“Why?” said the first pigeon.

“Well why are we sitting on this telephone wire in the hot sun when we could be under the awning of the studio?”

“I don’t know,” said the first pigeon. “I saw you sitting here watching the man and the woman and I assumed you had a reason.”

“I was waiting for you,” said the second pigeon.

“Why?” said the first pigeon.

“Because I like the way you pick things apart: Bread and human frailty.”

“Oh,” said the first pigeon. It shuffled upon the wire, making it swing in the dry air. “Your acuity, though often pretentious, is the solely enlivening part of my day.”

“I’m glad you feel that way,” said the second pigeon. They watched the sun cross the bare blue sky. Over the canyon. Below them, the cactus green and pointed yellow sat squat in the dirt. And inside, behind the window, the coffee cups stopped steaming and the coffee turned to mud. The cups’ shadows lengthened on the sticky formica counter until they crossed and circled like disputatious sundials.

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