“Gesture” by Malcolm Alexander

Malcolm Alexander

GESTURE

At a temple in Bangkok
you can purchase a living dove
for less than you’d think,

but the idea is not
to keep it, as pet or meal,
but to free it,

as gesture, such pure joy
in symbolism, you think,
until you come to learn

the bird is trained
and will return later
to be paid for

and released again. The cynic
in you says, enough
of gestures, but this one

is more profound than you might think,
for when it comes to freedom,
the down payment is cheap and easy.

It’s the installments that kill you.

from Rattle #23, Spring 2005

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Malcolm Alexander: “I wrote this poem while serving a seven-year sentence in an Arizona prison for drug offenses. Prior to incarceration, I was an avid blues guitarist and back-country motorcyclist.”