Jared Carter Poetry

[Cloister]

Mourning Doves

That all my life I have listened to the calls
of mourning doves, have heard them hidden far back
under the eaves, or perched among sycamore branches—
their five still notes sometimes lost in the wind—
and not known how to answer: this I confess,
lying here now, on a summer morning, in a dark room
no less lit by the sound of their soft calling

than by your breathing.  And though you might dream
that I lie stretched beside you, I am alone again,
and a child, hearing these same dim voices drifting
high outside my window, explaining to myself how
these are the cries of the newly dead, in the dawn light,
rising toward heaven.  Only that, and a child's need
to make up stories on falling asleep, or waking.

And though you might speak, out of that dream, or form
some forbidden word on your lips, my response
would be no more than the music two of them can make—
matching their notes in time, setting up harmonies
that are clear, and pure, and accidental even
to their own reckoning, since all of their singing
is circular, and comes back to the same stillness.

It is back to that place they are calling us now,
and it is out of not knowing that I brush away
strands of hair from your face, and begin to kiss
your eyes, your lips—that I might take sleep
from your mouth into mine, that we might dream invention,
and you hear my confession, and I your answering,
like a song traded back and forth in the morning light.
from After the Rain [credits]
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