from Sketches of Home, by Suzanne Clark
“Mourning Into Dancing,” p 125
This is the third spring that mourning doves have nested in the ivy on the sill of my pantry window. Each time I reach for soup I see a dark, wet eye regarding me. Her mate the woodwind keeps watch in the nearby holly tree, his throat rolling the same glum notes over and over as she sits on her somber eggs. I sing to her, too, my old standby for doves, “The Indian Lullaby.”
The dining room window gives an even better view of the nest. After a couple of weeks the female will start picking away, and then there will be these two extra heads and a lot of shifting around and the father on whistling wings coming to spell her. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that a day or so later the young will be nearly grown and crowding with their pear-shaped mother into the saucer. Shortly afterward comes the moment I see the nest is empty, and there on a holly branch sit the four, docile as cows.
Drab as they are, the mourning doves do something extraordinary. The young perform a sort of dance with their wings, draping them over their parents who in turn give them regurgitated food. It seems sacramental, this adoring and feeding that overwhelms native sorrow and arrests me in the act of dusting chairs.