Pigeon Squad


There’s a lot of pigeons down my way. Wood pigeons, with grey-blue backs and blue-pink breasts. Plump and sleek birds, a million miles away from their leprous-looking city cousins. In the summertime, I often sit in the garden and listen to their soft calls spotting the tarry silence, the sound bringing back memories of high and far-off holidays.

They like to gather in the street. Mornings, as I leave for work, and evenings, as I return, the street is full of them. They’re a confident lot, as assured as their thrust-out chests suggest. A squad rather than a flock. They seem to have no fear of the neighbourhood cats (next door has three), or even of cars. Often, I have to sound the horn, or even get out of the car and wave my arms about, before they move out of the way. Even then, they never hurry.

There’s an air about them. You know when you’re young, and you think you’re invincible? It feels like that.

I admire their chutzpah, but even more, I worry for them. Pigeons, I say or think as they saunter to the edge of the road, be careful! Not all drivers are as conscientious as I!

Last night I came home and there was just one pigeon in the road. Chest still proud, but thrusting up towards the sky. Head invisible, ground into the bitumen. A few wispy feathers, blowing in the breeze. Pigeon, I said, pigeon! I told you to be careful!

I cried when I got in. It was stupid, I know. But there was no one there to tell me, It’s all right, or it’s just a pigeon. Not any more. I tried telling myself, but it only made me cry even more.

That poor man. That’s what the neighbours say about me. That poor man. I don’t know how he copes. I really don’t.

When I drove out this morning, the pigeon had gone. Someone braver than I must have taken the body away.

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