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This report is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

The Pigeon Wars of Damascus (3) Marius Kociejowski


On the way from Aleppo I stopped at the coastal town of Tartus where, for the first couple of days, I slogged away at trying to write verses. And when they wouldn't come, I switched to prose. I wrote nothing of significance. The Muse scorns prose. The Muse accepts no substitutes. I did mistake her for a pelican once, which I then noticed was chained to a rock, padlocked too, and not at all well disposed towards the poetic hankerings of human nature. This was near where the boats embarked for the island of Arwad, sadly for the pelican a busy route. I should like to have been able to undo that bird, but I doubt it could have coped with freedom anymore. All day long youths teased her, and young couples, thinking themselves romantic, posed for photographs in front of her, and the usual idiots tried to feed her garbage. Would that she could have shat upon them from above, I'd have supplied her with radar, night goggles too. What I should have thought of then, but failed to, was the pelican of legend, which so loved its offspring it pierced its own breast to feed them with its own blood, an act that later came to symbolise Christ's sacrifice on the Cross: 'I am like a pelican of the wilderness.'

Later, I did what that pelican would most like to have done, at her own table, on her own time, and ate ...

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