The pelicans in St James’ Park are eating pigeons
whole. Perhaps there’s a casual, regal cruelty at work,
or they’re doing it because they can. Whatever.
All you’ll find in their expressions,
if you’d call them expressions,
is the old lie of animal wisdom, that dinosaur clever.
And the pigeons - do they know it
as they’re packed down the pink flower-flute,
the yawning, purpled spout folding feathers,
snapping wings, bird-bone, bird-skull?
Something’s clasped by the curled claws
sticking from a jumping gullet - a symptom
invited from the ragged edges of our vision,
a fever-beat upon the brain, the dumpety-dum
of new diseases dancing in the sun. Days of doubletaking.
We notice, not for the first time, the shoulders of statues
are dappled with crap. Our own shoulders, too.
As ever, the birds eat, shit, turn. But their eyes
seem shifty now, their persecuting cries announce
a moment’s gone, nothing new’s arrived.
From The Rialto No 66 (Spring 2009)