Doves

At first it felt like a hole —
one that sheared
straight through the muscle fiber.

Early in the day when Dad was at work
and everyone else had left for school,
my mother and I would walk
to my grandmother’s house.
Sometimes I’d hold her hand.
Sometimes I would run on ahead.
And always there would be the beautiful sound
of those birds. Doves, my mother would say,
morning doves. How glorious, I thought.
God created these softly colored birds
specifically to celebrate the day.
Years later — when there was no longer
a grandmother to visit, a mother to walk with,
a father to go off to work, those
who could always be counted on — that I could hear
what she actually meant.

Recently, I reached back into my chest,
pushed aside the spongy lungs and the venous
tangle of cords, to search
for that hole torn into my heart.
There’s a scar there now, crisscrossed and pearl-like,
inked with every name I know for love.

When my fingers stroked its feathers gently,
my heart started to coo.

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