By Andrew McNeillie
I remember how the Foster brothers
trained their birds in stages:
Gobowen, Craven Arms, Frome,
before off they went to Nantes,
Avranches, St Malo, and Bordeaux.
It helped set their compasses for home
and never failed to fill the brothers’
hearts with wonder, every time they
made it to Llandudno – bright and pert,
as if straight out of the ark.
Then a few hapless ones would go astray,
blown off course by gales in the Channel
or hit by the peregrine. Others
more of my persuasion, settled,
disorientated, high on cathedral rooftops
and, peering down, opted for
the life they saw below, among
baguette crumbs and croissant flakes
under little metal chairs and tables
outside cafés where
lovers sat billing and cooing
and solitary souls on
a caffeine/Gauloise fix
gazed down the cobbled streets
at the spectre of liberty.
ANDREW MCNEILLIE kept racing pigeons in his misspent youth but now prefers to pass his time reading the poems of Baudelaire. His collected poems Striking a Match in a Storm is due from Carcanet in March 2022.
Art by Jemima Storey