Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Doves by Bonnie Proudfoot

Outside my window this morning snow
piles up on porch rails and trees,
the only motion is a pair of doves perched
under the eaves, thin black beaks, clay-colored
round heads pressing together like a valentine,
their coo-coo-coo ocarina calls set off against
a backdrop of silent snowflakes. If they’re
the same pair as the last 3 years, they arrived
early, mid-February instead of April, but maybe
this year they’re trying to get it right.

They’ve had a run of bad luck, no postman-stork
delivering baby doves, instead clutches of eggs
that refuse to hatch or tiny naked chicks that don’t
make it. Long after the wrens, flycatchers
and robins build their nests, dart to the lawn
and head back to a cluster of open mouths,
after those other fledglings stand in a little bird
conga line on the porch railings and work up
the nerve to take first flights, this pair of doves
is still in phase one, trading shifts, nest guarding,
egg sitting, unflinching and inscrutable as buddhas,
their ruby eyes meet mine as I head outside.

I could climb a stepladder, chase them off,
clean out the nest, but I can’t bring myself
to break it to them. Do you know what I mean?
Maybe they don’t see the writing on the wall,
or they could care less about the other birds,
they stay with the thing that matters most,
and I wish I was more like that, after all,
there isn’t a day that doesn’t have its share
of glaring headlines, dire conclusions, so many
wrecking balls aimed at every plan. Even today,
disaster hangs like the wind-chill factor, and here
they are, innocent optimists with work to do,
all hopes and feathers and dreams.

Bonnie Proudfoot lives outside of Athens, Ohio. She has published short stories and poetry in a variety of journals. Goshen Road, her first novel, was published in January of 2020 by Ohio University’s Swallow Press, and is long-listed for the PEN/Hemingway Award.

1 comment: