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July 1, 2012, vol 8, no 2

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Stella Pierides


Feeding the Doves

Syntagma square, in downtown Athens, can be a confusing place. Day in, day out hundreds of people mill around, and on demonstration days it gets really busy. Anger, tear-gas, screams and megaphones fill the air; cars and taxis lay siege to the place, while tourists look on from the windows of the Grand Bretagne Hotel, or from their television sets.

Sundays, the square becomes a different place; it mellows, it quietens. Frequented by people with time to look around, to notice things, it gets back the soft, slow, thinking side it is meant to have. That's my sort of place, that's where I belong. Not even the cops bother to move me on, to stop me feeding the doves. I guess they have enough trouble on their hands with all those vultures around.

The doves. These birds are hungry! They flutter and coo, begging to be fed. The parcel of crumbs and seeds I take to them makes them happy. When the wife was still alive, she used to prepare a big food bag and send me to feed them. My arm ached from the weight. She used to say, doves carry the souls of the dead. I never believed her, of course. I pulled a face and left the house … I only went to feed them to keep her quiet. I thought it was what they call women's trouble, getting old and that. I thanked God for sparing us, men.

Ah, now, now I know different. I know they bring her with them, bless her soul; they bring her spirit. I know doves carry the wisdom of the world, bring peace. But does the world know it? No! It stopped seeing the doves for what they are long ago; instead, it sees them as a load of dirty pigeons. A health hazard to be dealt with by Health and Safety - while there are still civil servants around! That's why the world has lost its soul, if you ask me. Even on Sundays, it fails to see the doves.

hungry doves
one soul feeds
millions




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