Dead Birds, Sam Lackey

I come out of the station, down the escalator, through the doors, turn left. Past the taxis to the underpass. On the left, by the end of the wall, on the pavement, a skinny, dirty, dead pigeon. It is there for days.

I come out of the station, through the underpass, past the record shop with the food bowl outside for the three-legged cat. Past the boarded-up pub, under the railway bridge. I look up and left. A pigeon, its neck tangled in something, hangs feet down swinging backward and forward from the hoardings of the workwear shop (chef whites, tabards, boiler suits). It is there for weeks.

I pass through the estate, after the bus stop, past the metal bin for textile recycling surrounded by plastic bags of escaping damp duvets and baby clothes. To the left of the pavement a dead sparrow, on its side, feet towards you. It is gone the next day.

I leave the bar from the staff side door. Across the corridor, up the step, open the door to the cellar. Down the step, beer barrels on the right. Five dead pheasants on the left, hanging from their necks, red eye-masks, sweeping stripy wing cloaks. The feathers brush me as I change a barrel. They remain there until they smell the right way.

We visit a house in the country. Over a dinner of bloody goose breast the host describes trapping noisy wild birds, using a real bird as a lure. A friend takes a furtive photo of the bleeding bird on her plate. Her mum texts back, ‘Don’t eat it.’

I walk through the park, down the alley, along the road. On the pavement, next to a green leaf, a black bird. The feathers are brushed back on its neck and at the base of its tail and one foot sticks out, three claws facing forward and one the other way.

Where do the birds go when they die?

RSPB website: ‘Despite the fact that there are numerous flocks of birds, which are often seen while alive, people rarely see pavements littered with the bodies of dead birds.’