Author's Note: “A Mourning Dove” dates from two years ago, when the suddenness of the lockdown still felt like a curtain crashing down in the middle of Act Two. During those weeks, a dove was my sole companion—distant yet right outside the window. I was still watching her on Mother’s Day. The second piece is a response to Jim’s call for something unconventional about war. I live near Boston and teach at Boston University.
Photo credit: Robert Wexelblatt
She’s already been there a week, day and night, in high winds, hail, snow. Not one seed has passed her beak; she’s that determined not to fail. Her nest’s only twigs, hardly more, heaped up between my gutter’s drain and the end-board. I saw it pour down over her, the cold hard rain, and watched the north wind ruffle her feathers. A red-tailed hawk patrols above; she can’t shuffle her feet, stretch out her wings, or squawk. I’d like to help, to toss a crumb; but, afraid I’ll scare her off, I keep watch, once in a while drum on the window, a feckless ally drawing her black eye, give a wave, beam an encouraging grin. That hawk’s a worry; I want to save her from the peril she’s in. Sympathy’s useless. I can’t do more than cheer her, witness her fate, hope it warms up, the sky stays blue and watch the future incubate. Locked down by life’s imperatives —two eggs, one virus—we’re stuck fast in our respective narratives, unsafe and silent, both harassed.
A version of this poem first appeared in Big Windows Review
Slaughter, From a Distance
Majolica plate with stone-ground crackers laid out like coins around a block of cheese that tasted faintly of foreign goats; black, green, and maroon olives in one crystal bowl, another for the pits, one more for salted cashews. Outside, the children squealed, romping on a trampoline screened-in for safety. Our team was coming from behind and we leaned closer, provisionally enthralled. Suspense, tentative cheers, groans at a penalty, breaths held until the arcing pass was caught and three o’clock sunlight poured through linen drapes like a blessing. And when our boys took the lead we rose like sportive gods gazing down from their mountain. The machine guns, mortar shells, the billowing acrid smoke, screams and dismembered smears of red all lay far below the sylvan horizon.
A version of this poem first appeared in Orion Headless
©2022 Robert Wexelblatt
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