Nate Jacob has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest
Looking back, the choice seems obvious.
A man is given the chance in life
to select from a pantheon of plumed angels
which will carry his tune forever on winds.
My father, from what I can only imagine was a young age,
took to mimicking the mourning dove
with two gentle hands cupped just so together
and a breath gently pressed from pursed lips:
two poofs, he blew . . . and blew . . . and blew
He taught that call to a much younger me,
standing in a field along the banks of the Missouri,
waiting for the drawing of the nightly curtain of lightning bugs
against the breezy swelter of a crimson closing day.
Two poofs, we blew . . . and blew . . . and blew.
And without fail, from the cottonwood stands,
a mournful silhouette’s response: who knew! He knew.
For a long time now, I stand against the darkening skies
in a land devoid of fireflies, far from my past.
And like every night in the early summer heat,
I call to the mourning doves perched safe and neat
on the rooftops of each of my neighbors’ homes.
Two poofs, still true . . . is it you? Is it you?
And the answers come from every direction:
No. We will go, but you well know the tune.
Not of us, but of him . . .
In brittle winters I have tried the cupped-hand songs
when the roofs are empty against the grey expanse,
when I need nothing so much as a bird’s response,
but the tune of my father echoes cold and bronze
off the barren trees among the frozen yards:
two poofs, I blew . . . and blew . . . and blew . . .
If he has flown south, I never knew,
but the wind still blows, so I still hear his tune . . .
It is ours in the wind, in the echo, in the birds
and now in the tender cupped hands of my daughter
who blew . . . and blew . . . and blew . . .
as if she knew of his echoes in the breeze.
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