Suzanne Magee is a writer, activist, musician, and bar manager from Belfast whose interests lie in connections and disconnections, memory, community, and social responsibility. She was awarded her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Queen’s University in Belfast, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities focusing on Classical Studies from The Open University. An active trade union member, she has a keen interest in workers’ rights. Her work has appeared in SHIFTLit Derry, Abridged, Oxford’s Tower Poetry series, The Honest Ulsterman, Habworld2420, and various online journals. She is working on her first book.

The Pigeon House

Remember the Pigeon House?
Across from the river, just before the walkway was properly built,
and just after that time the chinook shaking the houses searched
for the boy who went in.
What was his name?

The smell got to me. I could never be in it long, but life was strung together with dares.
I don’t recall much, just rafters liberated from any second floor
and all the birds nesting in scrums along the beams.

You used the bones of the house to reach the nests and stole an egg to keep.

On the way home, down near the river, we passed the older ones
with the egos and the drink.
Too busy firing back slaggings, neither of us were bothered by the
football they kicked at you, until you heaved.

I’d forgot all about it but won’t again:
the embryo and gloop you threw from your pocket.

I told my ma about it a few days later – just that you’d touched an egg.
She shouted about that house and warned: if you disturb the nest,
the birds won’t go back and the eggs will never hatch.

It made us both feel worse.

Had I known that you’d moved back to that same street
to your mother’s house to die, I would’ve asked you if you remembered.