The Miracle of the Pigeons

This is a poem I wrote for my dearest friend, Christina Mills, who passed away on 25 April 2019. We were friends for 43 years.

The Miracle of the Pigeons
For Christina
By Susan de Muth, May 2019

“I love the sound wood pigeons make,”
You said in the Hospice this Spring
“It reminds me of Summer and sun and flowers
When I hear them on the wing…

“Yet is also reminds me of Death,’ you said,
But didn’t elaborate more,
You closed your eyes, and lay down your head,
And I softly closed the door…

It wasn’t ‘til after you died
That these puzzling words were explained
When your son said that as a child –
In sunshine and in rain –

You loved to feed pigeons outside your home
In your childhood Manchester Street,
Laughing and throwing them seeds and crumbs
In a hubbub of wings at your feet.

But one night came poisoners from the council
Who scattered their poisonous bait
And the pigeons – in their innocence –
Flocked to the ground… and ate

Next morning you opened the curtains
And screamed out loud when you saw
the street awash with dead pigeons
Culled under a council by-law…

And whistling workers shovelled them up,
Like so much dirty muck
And bagged them in bin bags  like rubbish
to be crushed in the back of their trucks.

…We’ve been dreaming of birds now you’re gone
And pigeons have appeared in kitchens…
One flew in through a window in Denmark
And there are birds in every song…

I know you don’t believe in miracles
But there’s been one just the same
It’s the miracle of the pigeons
I’m going to claim it in your name…

The miracle of the pigeons,
Christina, is that on your death, to the very day,
It became illegal to kill wood pigeons,
Or harm then in any way.

The miracle of the pigeons
Sets them free to gather and fly
and only the spirit of the Universe
Will determine when they die.

The gentle song of wood pigeons
Only meadows and sunshine once more
As we think of you flying before us,
Towards infinity’s door





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