Audubon said


A single flock

of passenger pigeons


numbered over a billion.

The sky black with them


for three days.

The last one, named Martha


by her keeper, died

in 1914 at Cincinnati Zoo.







A north wind blows.  The cats come with me around the garden (a series of crumbling terraces built by Italian prisoners of war). Bamboos swish and bend like Dervishes. Palm leaves applause. A chaffinch hurries from escalonia to willow screeching to her heedless young. The blue-tits have flown; robin in his summer sulk doesn’t sing. The wood pigeons have briefly ceased cooing and kissing. Instead, they hunker down in the black tree, shelter from the wind.  (Whatever it is that wood pigeons have, it should be used as an aphrodisiac. They spend all their time fucking, or at least on foreplay. The actual act is over before you can say columba palumbus. I can’t concentrate for their cooing and humping, flapping and clapping. They seem to do it all year round.)

Pigeons are great survivors. Wherever you go in the world – desert, mountain, snow, coast, drought, flood, war zones, volcanoes, cricket pitches, cold, heat – there they are. In UK there are rock pigeons, wood pigeons, ferel pigeons, homing pigeons, turtle doves, collared dove, stock dove.

      The black and white cats, Dolly and Flo, tails high, run one before, one after me, down the slate steps, between the thicket of reeds and clump of white hydrangeas, that from above look like the tightly permed heads of old ladies. Roses have rusted; cowslips are seeding. One of the banana trees is dying and has produced an obscene flower and tiny green fruit like a baby’s fat fingers. Self-seeded echiums tower like blue triffids, hum with heavy bees. Fuchsia drips with blood-red blooms. We’ve planted too many trees too close together, and a hot April and heavy rain since have turned the garden into a jungle. A bank of montbretia tangles with bamboo and nasturtiums. No butterflies on the drooping buddleia.                                                   Hawke’s Point Summer 2011                             

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One thought on “Pigeons

  1. dolores123 says:

    Thanks for reading my nature journal. I’m a novelist and poet, with 16 published books. This is a new project, and I’m enjoying the process – including poems, my photos, and even the occasional recipe – all to do with living ON THE EDGE in Cornwall.

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