I wrote this poem for Roz Palethorpe. It is called Keystone.


The phlebotomist wanted to know

what I was going to do with the rest of the day.

I said I was going to write about pigeons


Not the Wellington ones

which always made me feel

starkly urban, or melancholic


But the white-breasted parabolic diver

heavy-winged half-eater

equal opportunity parent


Frugivorous whiplash

Hemiphaga Novaeseelandiae



The phlebotomist wanted to know why pigeons

so I told him about you

and the letter to the editor


and Katherine,

who I imagine missed them.

Not a lot of wood pigeons in Paris.


My girlfriend grew up in a place called Pigeon Valley

Some Māori say they represent the presence of feminine beauty

which I tell her so I can watch her blush


I tell the phlebotomist that the wood pigeon

is a keystone species

because no one else does what they do


Imagine that, I say

as he draws my name on the labelled vials

and frees my arm


Imagine being that significant,

that special, a vital

spoke in the system


Yeah, imagine that says the phlebotomist

as I hop to unsteady feet

and point myself towards the sunlight


in which I will sit

and Google the bloodline of the Kererū

so I can write this for you.


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