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The leaves of the books are birds. The tightly scrunched ponytails of the girls are birds. The dreadlocks of their pothead boyfriends are birds. The doilies on the windowsills are birds. The Dominion Post held by an old man becomes a flock of birds and starts to fly away. The prescriptions for the sickness beneficiaries are birds caught in the down draft. The white paper bags that held raspberry cream donuts are birds. The receipts for reconditioned tyres are birds. The posters for a d-dub concert are birds. The Jackson’s Café and Burger Bar wrappers, the Dolla $ave plastic bags, the Wainuiohine Library Teen-Zone fliers are birds.

The valley’s calm, quiet, waiting. Mrs Henderson thinks it’s earthquake weather but she doesn’t say anything, doesn’t want to make a fuss. It’s probably nothing. No one else notices it’s quiet, too quiet, until everyone does at the same moment, like at a party when everything goes silent and no one wants to be the first to speak.

All the birds take flight at the sound of Mike’s motorbike backfiring. They lift, for a moment, suspended.

Everyone turns and stares.

Will they fly?

Will they soar?

Will they scatter? Like confetti? Like polystyrene beans from a burst beanbag?

Or will they all move together as one?

A rising,






All the birds are airborne,


and the whole valley







And the birds fled to the bush by Helen Mae Innes

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