poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Zenaida macroura

Mourning dove

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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

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