Mary K O'Melveny

“Mourning Dove Portfolios” by Mary K O’Melveny

Mourning Dove Portfolios

Outside my window, four doves converse
on spider webs of oak and maple branches.
Fattened by bird seed, they peer out
over the long wintered meadow
like savvy scouts searching the scenery
for signs of trouble ahead.

I want to call out that trouble, indeed,
has arrived. The work of doves has never
been as necessary. As they shake
out their grey feathers against these
sharp winds, I am betting on savvy
instinct. Times of rest have ended.

Our Capitol is under siege. Crowds
of crazies have climbed granite walls,
swept past barricades, spit on floors,
pushed through hallways as they dove
for crumbs tossed out by a madman.
No one gave much thought to doves.

Some days I can hear their whistle –
a high pitched whine from their wings
designed to scare off predators. Their
pigeon relatives flew messages for kings
and armadas, Caesar and Genghis Kahn.
Imagine the noise they must have made.

Most doves have ten thousand feathers.
In a dream I watched as flocks circled the mall,
wings whinnying beneath a pale sun.
In the beating, bleating air, fluff, tufts,
plumage sifted down, cushioned the ground.
Soon silence was everywhere. Soft as snow.


Mary K O’Melveny, a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Woodstock, NY and Washington DC. Mary’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has received award recognition in various venues. Her poetry appears in print and online journals and anthologies as well as on national blog sites such as The New Verse News and Writing in a Women’s Voice. Mary is the author of A Woman of a Certain Age and Merging Star Hypotheses (Finishing Line Press 2018, 2020). Her most recent collection, Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, will be published later this year by Kelsay Books. Mary is a member of the Hudson Valley Women’s Writing Group and a co-author of the group’s anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Books 2019).