Mourning Doves by Nate Jacob

Nate Jacob has earned an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2021 Poetry Contest

Photo of dove on branch
Photo by Jack Bulmer on Unsplash
Mourning Doves

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.

Nate Jacob
Nate Jacob is a very recently published poet, a stay-at-home father to six children, a stay-at-home husband to one wife, and a wandering hermit who is comfortable in the tensions of life, searching for that one thing which puts it all into some perfect perspective. He suspects he will find it somewhere in the world of the Poets.

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