American Life in Poetry: Column 816

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The ocarina call of a mourning dove, a woman mourning the death of a pet, and yet it all comes to looking forward to more and more life, whatever is there, wherever the mourning dove will lead her. Linda Parsons lives in Knoxville, and her most recent book is Candescent, from Iris Press.

Valediction

I hear before seeing, no need to see
to know morning’s ocarina, plaintive
call, soft strut on leafmeal. It was the first
creature I saw when the needle was done
and my sheepdog limped into last night.
That dove, I thought, will house his sable
spirit, coat feathered like joy in the wind.
Dove comes when my scattered mind

needs herding—bitter anniversaries,
leavings dire as tornadic rumble. Comes
when sky rivers blue, cooing all’s well
after all. Comes not to forbid mourning,
but trills core deep, beyond the senses,
glances back to make sure I follow
its white-tipped tail. Plaintive ocarina,
call me to bear all the light coming.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Linda Parsons, "Valediction," (2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Linda Parsons. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.