For the NaPoWriMo prompt to write about an animal. I seem to do that all the time, so this is a scene I participated in this morning before breakfast. And if any of my sensitive little chicks are reading, this is NOT you. Okay?

Photo©Luis Garcia


Watching the skirmish from the window

birds chasing through the waving fronds

of the pink tree heather

(piebald shark pursued by trout)

a hen blackbird clucks mother-like

fury boundless—magpie thief eludes her

mocking and

they flutter through the fronds

(pinkly waving)

weaving a dance of ritualised aggression.

Cock blackbird arrives late for the battle

(it’s his chick too)

and I run outside shouting

as if I can intervene in a pattern of nature

remove the chick from the (Chinese kite demon’s) beak

restore it to its nest.

I watch the inevitable

(demon kite) sailing away through the trees

and grieving parents clucking among the branches

winding down

returning to the survivors


(Do they, I wonder?


Do mothers ever forget their chicks

even when they are grown and gone

even when they forget birthdays

and fill their lives with things more important

than mothers?

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

18 thoughts on “Murder”

    1. I hate magpies and I love lunatic blackbirds. I’d have wrung that bird’s neck if it had hung around. I know people say it’s just being sentimental, but magpies can eat grasshoppers and all sorts of other stuff they don’t need to eat babies. Blackbirds do care, I’m sure. A mother’s a mother’s a mother. Always.

  1. Wow really like this one! like the “humanity” with which you paint the chickens. but calling it humanity is even narcisistic an adjective coming from a human 😉

  2. Thanks 🙂 I think you’re right that ‘humanity’ isn’t the right word. They do what they have to do. A mother defends her chicks and expects nothing in return. We do what we have to do, but we also have expectations. Our ‘humanity’ is often more selfish than an animal’s reasoning which is always selfless.

    1. I understand that they’re not programmed to have breakdowns, to give up on the babies that are left when one is carried off by a predator. They have to survive, get on with bringing up the survivors, but that doesn’t mean they feel no pain or sense of loss.

  3. I didn’t want to read anyone’s animal poems till I did mine–which took much longer than I expected. But wow–yours is so dramatic! I agree with all above about mothers. I saw a story recently about a goose who kept waiting for his mate to return. I’m sure they’re sad when they lose a baby.
    What is the bird in the photo?

    “My” mockingbird was putting on a concert again this afternoon. 🙂

    1. Thanks 🙂 The bird is a magpie. Don’t you have them? They’re crows, very decorative with dramatic plumage but their voices are ugly and they steal babies when they get a chance.
      You remember the female chaffinch that died, after waiting for days for the others to come back for her, her mate did come back a day or so afterwards and hung around the house all alone chirruping. It was so sad.

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