poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Mourning Doves

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

words from the woodland – bird song

with 2 comments

I have a lot of projects underway, mostly on the ‘administrative’ side of writing.  I have been ordering and revising a manuscript of poems on abandoned aspects of our landscape ( see ).  Now, I have reached the point where I really need to set the manuscript aside so I can approach it with a fresh eye in a couple of weeks.  So I will use the days between to order another manuscript of poems about sounds from the woodland.  The poems mostly use animal and bird sounds and songs as metaphors for human communication.


Some of these poems have been around a while, packaged in another form.  In the last weeks, I have been thinking about the bird song metaphor and now I am ready to consider the poems in relation to one-another.  Perhaps I am responding to the Black-capped Chickadees, chattering in the Tamarack.  Or the Hairy Woodpecker who comes every few days to beat his head against our telephone pole.  Perhaps I am thinking more than usual about human communication (having just learned to ‘Twitter’).




January 8, 2012 ‘two Mourning Doves’ Jane Tims


drawing doves


‘… cease to mourn …’

Virgil, Eclogue I


grey sighs beneath graphite

or where eraser softens

troubled feathers


doves lament, disturb

fine detail, mourn

the fingers’ tremble


pencil strokes beak

and fingernails, kernels

of corn, husks of sunflower



Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 30, 2015 at 7:17 am

keeping warm

with 15 comments

After some variable weather over the last weeks, the cold has arrived.

The birds at the feeder are plumped and fluffy, and look twice their usual size.   The cat curls up a little more tightly than usual, puts her paws over her face, and finishes off with her tail coiled across the paws.

Inside we use our electric fireplace more often and cover up with some of the little lap quilts I’ve made.  But outside is a different matter and another strategy is required.

I’m determined to stay warm this year, so I make the following pledge:

🙂 I will wear mittens and a scarf … you would think I would be past the ‘scarves-and-mittens-are-not-cool’ stage.

🙂 I will have a warm drink before I leave the house … my new discovery is real ginger root chopped into fine pieces and steeped for tea.

🙂 I will take a chair seat from the house to warm the seat of the car … I used to make fun of my Mom for doing this.

🙂 I will warm up the car before I leave … this is in the face of my usual ‘no-idling’ policy.

And so I would like to know, on these cold days, how do you keep your niche warm????



stay warm


two mittened mourning doves

sit on the ledge in sun, exaggerate

their approach to keeping warm

fluff the pillows, bar the doors, make a nest by the fire

spaces between feathers fill with air and fibre, energy from

sunflower seeds, cracked corn and cider



©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

January 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

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