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Poem of the Week - ‘White Pigeons’ by Robert Peake

White Pigeons

are not doves. They do not stand
for peace, but flock and swoop
above my head in the blue before dawn.

They are a liquid in the air,
elastic, bunching and swarming
like oil drops on water.

I do not want to know the physics.
I do not want to make a documentary. 
I stand and watch them ripple like a flag.

The soldier inside me wants to salute.
The prophet takes it for a sign.
They double-back, like a bed sheet, folded.

And then they dip below the tree line,
leaving their absence to hang in the air.
I never wished they were more than they were.

A mourning dove now sounds his call to prayer.
A red-tailed hawk lords over mousing fields.
I have heard some call all pigeons
wingéd rats.

But these were different, bred to home,
which means that they were practising,
and work never seemed as elegant as this.

Tie a message to my foot. I will assume
my place in the aerial formation. Let me
be a single snowflake in that flurry.



Delicately written, Peake evokes highly detailed images with poise. More of his poems can be found in The Knowledge, Peake's first full-length collection of poetry, available to buy on our website.

1 comment

  • Just loved this poem – it reminded me of the way in which pigeons used to swoop in the air outside my attic study in Falmouth. Wood pigeons sometimes find their way into poems now I live in rural Normandie

    Brigid Sivill

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