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Mourning dove

This afternoon, a sickening thud
and flash of feather past the pane.
I ran outside. There, breathing blood
he lay, quick-circling the drain.

His panic came up like a flood,
So terrified to see me there.

His feathers splintered at his throat,
a bit of iridescent flair
that once lit up his tannish coat
now fluttered down between my boots,
and wings that bore him swift and sure
bent backward, broken at the roots.

Firm in my hand he softly stirred
and gazed at me, and gasped, and died.

So delicate, this broken bird,
passed quiet as a whispered word.
I laid him out and went inside.

Four hours on, the sky dark-blurred,
I went to look at him again
But stopped up short. Another bird
Was there with him, and still remains.

Is there a thing too small to grieve?
Is there a soul too small to mourn?
A partnership too small to cleave
in whispered, cooing words besworn?

I don’t think so. This looked like love
and she’s there still, that mourning dove.

10 thoughts on “Mourning dove

  1. Willie Wilburn Walker

    I live in Chattanooga. My favorite birds at my ten feeders are the doves. They prefer feeding on the ground, but I have large open tray feeders that the squirrels can’t rob, the doves like. The first thing I do in the morning is look for the Mourning doves. They bring a joy to me each day just knowing they will still be here when an old man is long gone. Thanks for the poem, my friend! Willie Walker

  2. Christopher

    In reply to your rhetorical question regarding whether there is a thing too small to grieve, a soul too small to mourn I answer resoundingly a most emphatic “no”. Thanks for the reminder. What a beautiful observation.

  3. Ed Darrell

    Too many years ago, in Cheverly, Maryland, I came across a mourning dove in the middle of the street. It couldn’t move, but its head was up. I imagined that its back was broken, probably collided with a car.

    It was a very quiet Saturday morning. As I stopped I was struck that even the birds weren’t singing.

    Looking up I saw a covey of doves in the trees, silent. One flew down closer to me on the nearest branch, then buzzed right over me. A dozen other birds, of other species also watched from other nearby trees.

    I got a box, and scooped the bird up, being as aware as possible of trying not to do any more injury to it. As soon as I got the wounded bird secure, the trees exploded with birds chirping.

    Alas, ultimately the bird rescue folks were unable to save it.

    I’ve been haunted ever since by those other birds, waiting, helpless I suppose, hoping for a little bird miracle.

  4. Willie

    I feed a lot of doves at my feeders. They will help each other by throwing seeds down to the ones feeding on the ground below. I use eighty pounds of black oil sunflower seeds a month just for my doves. Sadly, here in the South there is a culture of killing the perfect little creatures in order to have ten or twenty of their breasts for one meal. So many lives for one meal! “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” And they call it, “harvesting” the doves as if nothing (including the thousands of offspring they might have had)… dies.

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