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This report is taken from PN Review 151, Volume 29 Number 5, May - June 2003.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

August 1988 At the corner of a street in Tournus, a fledgling pigeon, I suppose, big as your fist, yellow fur sparse over white flesh, muscular, spiky wings, closed eyes, rather hooked beak, big head - thuds to the gutter. It convulses, opening the beak, heaving itself over with the stubby wings. Silent howl. We stand shocked. A man continues to scratch the surface off a card to see if the number revealed shows he has won a prize. He looks at the bird, identifies it with one word, unintelligible to me, and goes about his business. To pick it up... touch it... writhing... strong... hurt... horrible. Take it... where? What would they think? No one else bothers to look. Damaged beyond help. City gutter. So glad as it goes still. The head lies over and legs stiffen in the air. The others go on shopping. I watch. It moves some more. Then it doesn't. I go to the Abbey, then walk round outside, see the Tower of the Doves, built by the abbot after the tenth-century sack by the Hungarians, so the plaque says. It is dried egg-yolk yellow, like the fledgling's hair. I walk back through the streets and can't quite find the place. Then find I am at it. There he is, a few feet away, turned round but absolutely still. Leave him. To die where he fell. People stepping over him, cars within feet of him, dirt and refuse close to him. But he lived ...


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