Crime Writer

doves on The Lazy Square

they murdered Maggie

The odds of survival were never going to be high
for a magpie with one broken wing, but she gave it a go
attempting to find a haven on the Lazy Square lifestyle block
where they left out meat for her and hoped that if she kept to the edges
and close to any cover offered by timothy, cocksfoot and buttercup,
she just might be okay, even though the hawk’s long, low wafts
of moth-brown, didn’t engender optimism.

They called her Maggie, and my sister and her husband,
along with their neighbour Andrea, watched out for her,
scanning perimeters — the fence line, the banks
of the creek, the thatch of weed by the pond,
the young apple tree’s low-lying branch
used by her as a perch, until the familiar bob
of white-and-black assured them Maggie had survived

one more night; then autumn, winter and into spring.
In the end it wasn’t the hawk that did her in, but her own kind.
They just arrived one day, my sister said, out of the blue,
magpies, acting at first as a friendly enough bunch, but it turned
out that Maggie was merely bait the older birds used
to teach the younger ones the attack skills they would need
to defend their territory and chase off predators.

After being lulled into a false sense of security,
Maggie was bullied and pecked to death,
her carcass left for the hawk. Except that was not going to happen.
Having just lost her husband, my widowed sister wasn’t up to
dealing with any more grief, so Andrea buried Maggie
ensuring that the bird with the broken wing was safe at last
with earth on top and above nothing but sky.

Kay McKenzie Cooke


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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