A Woodpigeon

By Tanya Kundu

I tend to avoid large bodies of water
But when dehydration decrees
That I must visit one such brimming mirror,
I am told again that
I am ugly.
My crooked beak laps and splashes,
Distorting that once still surface with circles:
Echoes of distaste –
Widening, scornful eyes.

So I try to make amends
For those straggly grey feathers,
That clumsy, lopsided hobble,
With my song:
Not the rough bark of a preening pheasant
Nor the blackbird’s self-aggrandising stanzas;
No trills, turns or appoggiaturas –
Just a four-note, rasping lullaby.

But please – do not follow my voice
Through grass or wood or glade,
For if you catch me unawares
I will frighten you
With the panicked gunshot of my flapping wings.

And then, from a safer branch,
I will see the disappointment in your face
That I was not a dove.

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