Tuesday Poem – Prophecy, by Melissa Green


In leafy Bloomsbury, the pigeons are straining their collars.
They are printing out the rain’s alphabet on the cobbles,

the muttering in their throats is the sound of water in gutters,
their utterance the consonants of Aeschylus. O Virginia, the birds!

As children, Cassandra and her brother slept the night in Apollo’s
sanctuary and at dawn were found entwined by sacred snakes,

their tongues flicking the children’s ears to clean them
so they could hear especially the voices of animals and birds,

and understand the divine language of nature. Listen!
The pigeons are describing you, and predicting your future.

Melissa Green

Melissa Green is the author of two books of poetry, The Squanicook Eclogues, and Fifty-Two.  She has also written a memoir, Color Is the Suffering of Light, and is finishing work on a book about Héloïse and Abélard. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts in the US.

This week, the Tuesday Poets are having a ‘Secret Santa’ exchange where we post each other’s poems.  I’m delighted to have been paired with Melissa Green and be able to post this lovely poem.   I’ve always been attracted to the idea that we can read the future through the natural world and I love the sounds echoing through the poem (collars/cobbles; muttering/gutters/ utterance).  Thanks Melissa!

You can read the other Tuesday poems by clicking on the quill to the left.  Melissa’s blog is Vesper Sparrow’s Nest.


  1. Oh, such a heady mix of the divine and the seemingly lowly (the poor London pigeons) I love Melissa’s poetry and the way that it weaves these two elements together to create something very delicate and beautiful. Thanks so much for posting and Merry Christmas!

  2. What great lines: “They are printing out the rain’s alphabet on the cobbles//the muttering in their throats is the sound of water in gutters,”

    & I love the allusions: “O Virginia, the birds!”

    Adding up to a very intelligent poetic whole.

    Thank you for posting this.

  3. lovely…this poem should be read aloud. the rain, the music of the repeated syllables as they penetrate the listeners…
    happy christmas to both of you, janis and melissa….

  4. So much here to exclaim at – Melissa, Janis.

    I can see and hear ‘the pigeons. . . printing out the rain’s alphabet on the cobbles’ and keep step with them a moment. The sacred snakes stop me in my tracks; I am thrilled – and enchanted – by the idea of their tongues flicking clean Cassandra’s and her brother’s ears so as to enable them to tune in to the language of the natural world. Just this morning I read a remarkable article that I pass on to you. The synergy between what you have written here and David Abram’s ‘ecology of magic’ seems too striking to ignore. (http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/abram.html)

    Thank you both – I so enjoyed your Alice sequence on Vesper Sparrow’s Nest, Janis. And Melissa, I love that you, too, have written a poem about ‘calculating’ pigeons!) Claire.

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