A White Dove Dies

A perfect white pigeon-dove (I can never remember which is which) died this morning, deep red blood spattering its pristine feathers.

We were alerted to its presence by the gathering of all three animals, arranged in an orderly black-cat-gold-dog-black-and-white-cat semi-circle in the corner of the garden, all looking up, occasional fluttering, accompanied by a shower of tiny twigs emitting from the hedge in front of them.

The hedge is in the throes of Spring: thick, bright green leaves filling up any and all of the spaces, unfurling, unruly, vivid. As a result, we could only just make out small patches of white between the green, below a painfully blue sky.

Like 18th century jungle explorers we moved them all aside to reveal the terrified bird, its right eye out of its socket, blood running down its neck, like something out of a horror movie. David Attenborough meets Stephen King. Extracting him from the hedge, he became calm, collected, gently sitting, held by human hands, as my animals jostled and yowled, wanting to see, to sniff, to catch.

It only took a minute, held gently in those hands, warm scarlet blood dripping on the floor below. The minute it took for us to work out what to do next to help this little white bird. Its heart simply stopped beating and it closed its other eye and floated off into whatever is next, leaving only a cool beautiful feathered shell and some blood spatters on the stoep.

It all seemed terribly symbolic in my state of Saturday morning contemplation of the world that’s happening around us. The white dove flapping off into the ether, blood splattered on concrete watching it go.

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