PoetryWinter 2021-2022

Columbarium — John MacNeill Miller

It is like listening for the difference
between mourning and morning.
Recovery comes—subtle, sudden
only after you stop asking for it.

Some monochrome dawn
your attention idling, a stone
stands and stretches, resolves
into an unassuming dove
feathers the hue of an old bruise.

But this arrival is an augury:
the months of lead have ended.
More winged things will emerge
from the furtive earth to adopt
the emptiness as their own. One
may settle this very window-ledge.

Expect her nest to be messy
as kitchen sweepings. Dusty
but unruffled she will brood
amidst this tinder, terra cotta body
blush with unwonted glow.
Eggs follow, thin-walled promises
to replenish every meadow

until the world shivers with doves:
doves scoring the sycamore
with dainty pink talons, doves
pacing the dark and reeky mulch
doves sunning atop tarpaper shingles
launching their humble brag
to the airless afternoon: Who
me? Yes, you. You, you.


John MacNeill Miller teaches about literature, animals, and the environment at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. His creative work has appeared previously at About Place Journal, Bartleby Snopes, and Pindeldyboz. He tweets as @Snarls_Dickens.

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