Pigeon Prayer

By Erica Meurk

November 20, 2017

Pigeon Prayer

Whether to call them pigeons or doves is a matter of perspective. We humans made them all one family, then deemed the white ones symbols of peace and purity, while the grey took their place in tales of plague and war. Besides pigmentation and connotation, we don’t agree on what makes the difference. 

This particular crop of Biblical birds -- the vilified kind, grey save for a stripe or a spot -- seem not to notice my sandaled feet. They’re habituated, or distracted, their sharp beaks piercing the sugar-crusted popcorn that someone left on the terra-cotta tiles despite signs instructing otherwise. Three of them crowd around one kernel, bouncing it back and forth like college kids with a hacky sack, near enough that I see the flashes of iridescent pink and green on their backs. They thrust their heads forward with each step, tracing and retracing their wanderings, grounded like the mammals they are not, because where but on solid ground would they find something so sweet? 

And then, as if called to midday prayer, they swoop as one into the air, their shadows littering the square below like paper napkins in a swift wind. Once around, twice around, bunching and spreading and bunching again as they fly.

Comments (10) - Post a Comment
Absolutely well-written and interesting. So many wonderful phrases: "like college kids with a hacky sack", "grounded like the mammals they are not", "as if called to midday prayer", "shadows littering the square below like paper napkins in a swift wind."
Nancy Nichols at 8:22am EST - November 20, 2017
A moment of urban beauty.
Karen Zey at 9:03am EST - November 20, 2017
Beautifully written
Autumn Shah at 9:22am EST - November 20, 2017
Each word here like an apple of gold in a setting of silver. Thank you for starting my week beautifully!
Laurie Klein at 11:10am EST - November 20, 2017
I never thought of the opposing beliefs of pigeon or dove but all my life know one was bad the other good. The pecking and swooshing was so effective All my senses were inacted.
Peggy Lamb at 11:10am EST - November 20, 2017
Wonderful description of a brief moment in time. Congratulations!
Sharon Kennedy at 12:52pm EST - November 20, 2017
Wonderful! I was standing with you, and you helped me to see and savor the scene before me. If it weren't for you taking the time to notice and give it voice, I would have missed it all, being caught up in replays of thoughts and what I would consider (until now) the mundane events of pigeons eating dropped morsels.
Carol Barrow at 1:03pm EST - November 20, 2017
I have also watched them go after food, noticing the bright colors on grey backs, then seeing them fly off. Well said!
Gladys Strickland at 4:03pm EST - November 20, 2017
Thanks for the kind words, all!
Erica Meurk at 5:54pm EST - November 20, 2017
Just lovely, Erica!
Sharon Goldberg at 7:41pm EST - November 21, 2017

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