One wintry night, an amazing artist named Jenna showed us her idea for a book, where the pages were cut into the shapes of a flock of pigeons. We all marvelled at the beauty of such an object, and wondered about what words could go inside such a curio.
These are those words – or one version of them, that I then chanted into the microphone at the Phoenix on a Wednesday night. You will see a different version of what goes inside Jenna’s book any time you look up at the sky.
A pocketful of pigeons
The pigeons that roosted under the eves of the great library found a book,
a blank book all potential and undreamt dreams
all orphaned and abandoned, face down they
turned it over, and cooed and coaxed it back to life.
In a matter of months the book was more bird than bound volume
spoke the language of columbiforms, knew the secrets of the skies
alongside its avian fosterlings, pecked pocketfuls of seed strewn over Garema’s grey ground.
The pigeon-book does not tell the pigeons how to be pigeons
the pigeons tell the book how to be
and the pigeon book, tells tales of tailfeathers spread taught to tame the air that is up and up and up above mount Ainslie and higher.
The pigeon book sneaks past security, squabs down to the vaults of the library,
below lake level, lest the library books’ breathing quicken and hasten their demise.
The pigeon book it whispers feathery secrets into the bindings of austere old volumes of stories and facts and letters and lore.
And inside their paper hearts, a stirring
a straining and a flutter to feel that hint of breeze
from the airconditioning vent.
Pages fold into wings and spines crack as they catch the spell of flight.
In the centre of the Canberra, paper passerines pour forth into the light,
and the cooing coddle of the under eve pigeons weave among the columns before soaring,
wingtip against paperflap they wheel and twist so close that you can’t tell where book ends and bird begins.
And the people of canberra can only look up
The people of Canberra they can only stare at the skies
as their little cache of knowledge is dissipated and evaporated
and all that was left was a few torn out pages and a feather.