Matt Morton

The Tourist

Across the street, Death
was leaning over the fire
escape. On the gutter
the pigeons gathered,
rehearsing the same old
argument about flight,
whether to go, to stay.
We weren’t sure what

to make of it: the pigeons
squabbling like pigeons,
the heap of wire burning
on the corner, casual passers-
by capturing the blaze
on their phones. Sitting
in a circle on the grass,
we went on talking

as usual about our dreams:
teeth falling out, horses
with wings, our mothers
growing antlers. Later,
matching up socks alone
in my studio apartment,
I wondered what it meant—
the pigeons, the people

taking pictures of the fire
and Death just standing there
in full view. My blinds
were drawn. Moving on
to my shirts, I hummed
a holiday song. Hoping
Death didn’t see me.
Hoping Death did.

Matt Morton was a 2013 Finalist for a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, diode, and West Branch, among others. He recently received his MFA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where he currently teaches creative writing and literature.