poetry and prose about place

Mourning dove

with 10 comments

I woke this morning to another new bird in the mix of the morning bird chorus — a Mourning dove. In this area, the Mourning dove is a common bird, seen pecking at seeds beneath feeders or hanging out on the telephone lines. But I haven’t heard one in our grey woods for a while.


'two Mourning Doves'


The call of the Mourning dove gives it its name. It begins with a low question and continues in a descending series of coos.

Oh no, no, no, no, no

Dear me, me, me, me, me, me

I decided to try and capture this sound in words.







Hollow, mellow

A reed, the inside walls of a bottle

An emerald bottle, buried to its neck in the sand

Breath across the mouth of a bottle

A child’s feeble attempt at a whistle

Light and shadow inside a vessel of glass


If the call of a mourning dove were a colour it would be amethyst

If the call of a mourning dove were a sound it would be wind blowing down the stairway of a tower

If the call of a mourning dove were a taste it would be chowder, thick and left too long on the fire

If the call of a mourning dove were a touch it would be a wooden shawl, wrapped round and round until it was no longer warm but strangling

If the call of a mourning dove were a song it would be hesitant, riff-driven, repeated over and over

If the call of a mourning dove were a smell it would be the cloying perfume of lilac


If it was a vowel, it would be ‘o’ or ‘u’ and sometimes ‘y’

If it was a consonant, it would be ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘r’, or ‘w’


Heavy or light

Loud or soft

Tall or short

Sad or happy

Bright or dull

Sharp or dull

Nearby or distant

Solemn or joyous

Spacious or confined


So, from all this, a poem. This is the second draft of a poem about the mourning dove which never mentions the bird except in the title.


Mourning dove


Zenaida macroura


wind wakens, descends the stair

notices shadow, gaps in cladding

the hollow of the tower, breath

across the mouth of a bottle

amethyst, buried in sand


the reed widened, a solemn song

the riff, the echo, a distant train

expands across the valley

and a child hollows her hand

shapes her lips for a kiss


tries to whistle, her breath

a sigh, a puff to cool

the chowder, still simmers

on the fire, thick

and needing stirring


potatoes, corn and onions

curdled cream, a woollen shawl wrapped

round and round, warmth tightened

to struggle, viscous as lilac

unable to breathe



For other posts and poems about the Mourning dove, see  and



Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

10 Responses

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  1. Beautiful drawing! I really enjoy the mourning doves that flit about the branches of our pine trees and the sounds they make. Your drawing would make a lovely note card.

    Liked by 1 person


    June 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    • Hi Rebecca. Thanks. The first time I ever heard a Mourning dove I thought a sad dog had been left forgotten on a leash somewhere. They seem almost domesticated they are so easy-going. Jane

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      June 30, 2016 at 4:53 pm

  2. I think we could / should consider a workshop for Fictional Friends in which we take a piece like this and discuss how we move from the first to the final version. It would open up our minds to different ways of working and would help us to consider the many ways in which poetic creativity works. Let’s think about doing something like this.

    Liked by 1 person


    June 29, 2016 at 9:15 am

    • Hi. Yes, I agree. We should talk to the rest of the group and I think they would be willing. In a couple of days my post will construct a poem for the Hermit thrush, in a similar way.

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      June 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

      • I look forward to reading that, Jane. Meanwhile, I’ll work on one for you … and, if you like my reworkings, that will be a base from which to negotiate with the group. We could do a joint session on a Saturday! More about this later.

        Liked by 1 person


        June 29, 2016 at 9:27 am

  3. Neat way to move from the first piece to the second piece. I appreciate seeing how other artists work. Jane. Also, in working from the original to the final, the final becomes less cryptic and so much clearer. This means you give the reader a deciphering process for other poems: directions on how to deconstruct and read backwards. Very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person


    June 29, 2016 at 8:36 am

    • Hi Roger. Thank you. Again, the blog helps me in the creative process. Challenges me to find new metaphors for describing the natural world. The exercise of ‘if it were a colour, etc., it would be …..’ is lots of fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      June 29, 2016 at 9:15 am

  4. “amethyst, buried in sand” I love the image this evokes for me… After my mother died I had a pair of mourning doves who kept me company on the ground when I was gardening. Their presence was comforting and they made me laugh sometimes when they cocked their heads as if they were puzzled by what I was doing…

    Liked by 1 person

    Barbara Rodgers

    June 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

    • I had a similar experience after Mom died … a little yellow bird came to the window trying to get in for months. Birds are a favourite part of the world for me.


      jane tims

      June 29, 2016 at 9:17 am

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