Mounting the Dove Box

W. J. Herbert

I ordered it online for him and thennailed it under the eaves where he could seea pair fly in and out with twigs, and whenchicks fledged, they'd wobble testing wings and hewould be distracted, maybe feel less painbut no doves seemed to nest, though one flew inand we both held our breath. Then heavy rain.More chemo. He withdrew, black terrapinthat settled in the mud and disappearedwhile I sat there and thought about the box.That fall as days seemed slow and cold, I clearedout ivy, watched the "v" of passing flockswhile under eaves a twig cup, half-hewn boat,hung on, like him, unraveling. Remote.

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W.J. Herbert’s debut collection, Dear Specimen, (Beacon Press, 2021) was selected by Kwame Dawes as a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series and awarded a 2022 Maine Book Award for Poetry. Winner of the 2022 Arts & Letters Rumi Prize for Poetry, Herbert’s work appears, or is forthcoming, in The Atlantic, Best American Poetry, The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Maine and Kingston, New York. Read more at Beacon Press.

Boston, Massachusetts

“Herbert writes movingly about a world of extinction, using the lenses of fossils and storytelling to create an involving worldview. . . . The writer’s gift for deep seeing elevates even the smallest of details. . . . In mostly short poems, Herbert describes a vibrant yet highly vulnerable world. . . . She breathes life into fossils, skeletons, and nature today, even our world in its current damaged state. A unique and thrilling collection that pulses with wonder; not to be missed.”
Library Journal

“[Dear Specimen] is as unflinching as it is gentle.”
Tupelo Quarterly

“These poems examine the beauty and cruelty that abound in nature, and they scintillate with the spark of life while acknowledging its inevitable extinction.”
Earth Island Journal

“These poems engage the most critical question humans have ever faced—and do it from the wellsprings of passion and grace that are the best thing about our species.”
—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

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