White Live Doves for Funerals

Sarah Barber

According to Birds of North America,
where they occur is everywhere all year.
The tips of their wings collide in take-off.
From there it’s ultraglide in whiteat an angle impossible to follow, though
we’ll all get our chance to try. For now
we bob our heads when walking, coo,
and nest—which is why we were circlingthe block, like good birders partly
concealed though not quiet in the car
since Journey was encouraging us not to stop
believin’ those men would stop kissingoutside the gay bar beside the electric pole
we’d pulled up alongside because I wanted
those White Live Doves for Funerals
to hang in my study. As if dove werejust another word for a common bird—
eats grains, small seeds—as if my dead
wouldn’t care for the rise of a pigeon.
And though mourning makes for smallintelligence up there in the upper branches,
when did I stop believing? Generally,
for memory’s sake, even birds take trees,
a building, at least a rock to mark the seasonby until they end up where they started:
ultraglide—in black because my eyes
are bad. These birds are crows and mad
atwitter. Where they occur is everywhere.

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Sarah  Barber

Sarah Barber, author of The Kissing Party, has published poems in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, New Ohio Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and Poetry, among other publications. She teaches at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.

Sarah Barber’s Country House is a collection of pastoral poetry for the Anthropocene—she celebrates nature through attention to the scientific method and with appreciation for surrealist absurdities. Punchy and elegant, Barber’s poems reintroduce readers to the strange beauty of a world they only thought they knew.

“The poems in this relentlessly gorgeous volume insist on the ordering of language and image as a bulwark against brutality…. There is nothing simple here, nothing that has not been honed to a fine tip in the too short daylight of a long winter, nothing that doesn’t serve at least two purposes in kitchen or yard, bed or mind.”
—Kirsten Kaschok

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