By Bob Mee

My father waits at the door to his pigeon loft.
The first bird back brings him a degree in ornithology from the Open University and a dead grey wagtail.
The second bird back brings him wild samphire from the muddy banks of the Solway estuary and a kipper from a market stall in Arbroath.
The third bird back brings him a confused nun with a watering can (she had been gardening).
The rest of the birds bring him darkness.
He counts them all in and closes the coop.
Inside his cottage, the nun is warming her feet by the log fire.
She has already eaten the kipper, the samphire and the grey wagtail.
She has scraped the bones and feathers into the bin under the sink.
The Open University degree scroll is on the table.
My father finds a frame and tacks it on to the wall.
As he can’t read, it’s upside down.
He’s not sure what to do about the nun.
She looks at him as if it’s him who’s kidnapped her, not the bird.
Eventually she gets up and washes her plate, knife and fork.
It’s late, says my father. You can sleep in the spare room.
I’d rather not, says the nun. Where’s the nearest nunnery?
Of course, my father doesn’t know.
He sits by the fire and rolls a cigarette.
What happened to my watering can? says the nun.
My father doesn’t know that either.
The nun mutters something under her breath.
She wrenches open the front door and leaves without a goodbye.
My father draws on his roll-up, says to himself:
I’ll get rid of the pigeons in the morning.
I can’t be doing with this every time there’s a race.

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