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Mourning Dove

by Nancy Clark
My eyes and ears were toddler new when first
Rememberings grew in my head. May morning
Light against the curtain called me wake
To hear the morning canopied with birdsong,
Cascades of bubbling voices trebling dawn.
Then like a muted piper, smooth and low,
The cotton coo-hoo of the mourning dove
Came gently from some distant hidden place.
And I seemed called to seek it out, to leave
My bed and come outside to press my footprints
In the dewy grass and stop to touch
The fattened peony buds and fuzzy iris.
"Come see the worm," teased Grandpa, with the hoe.
I backed up. "No." And Grandma, from the house
Called, "Come to get your shoes on!" "No, I want
To find the little bird," I said and tried
To sing its special sounds so Grandpa'd know.
He showed me once, the dove with rounded head
And color none, so plain I soon forgot.
And yet its random calls could make my ears
Attend against all louder straining throats.

And still it bids me hear in spite of sirens,
Speakers, horns, and bells, the constant strings
Of ringing things, insistent beckonings
That trouble time and teach me urgency.
Then comes the dove's soft summons from afar
A simple mantra, intimate, intoning
Calm. From voice so small, the greatest call.

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Copyright © 2000 by Nancy Clark. All rights reserved.