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.

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