The mournful cooing of the Mourning Dove is one of our most familiar bird sounds. European settlement of the continent, with its opening of the forest, probably helped this species to increase. Regularly swallows grit (small gravel) to aid in digestion of hard seeds.
On a Monday, I drag something out to the curb. They watch wary, then scatter, tittering into the wind. In New England winter, the Mourning Dove is a melancholy absurdism.
In therapy, I confessed I was not earning enough: not writing or drawing or reading nearly enough. Who is saying this to you, my therapist wanted to know. Titter into the wind. My uncle, lodged in my psyche, unyielding as a beach stone. I've worn him down some, but the ballast he left in my brain tips me back from the brink of weightless flight: What about the money? Where is the money? uncle said, then said again, until I learned to coo it to myself.
On a Monday, I drag shit out to the curb. Lots of little shits in little bags. They watch wary, the doves.
In the foyer of cousin’s mansion, uncle stepped from the shadows, ring-eyed and crooked with age. Before dinner, ringed around the coffee table — husband beside me — uncle asked what I thought of the effort to criminalize queerness in the classroom. I don't have a problem with it, he added. He is a contrarian, cousin said. His wife called their young children down, using the intercom.
On a Monday, I drag myself out to the curb. Shit. Who is saying this to you? Emboldened into a sullen huddle, the doves do not scatter. They coo. They who.
On a Monday, husband drags shit out to the curb as I sleep. In New England winter, mourning is melancholy, Doves. Winter, in New England, Doves, is in.
In a little room behind the sanctuary at father’s funeral, uncle said to me he’d be a father. I was fifteen. I did not know then uncles are uncles, not fathers, and I want to say, in the years to come, he watched wary, but he didn’t. I want to say, instead, he tittered into the wind but uncle is logic-cold. He has never tittered.
On a Monday, Doves!
On a Monday, I drag myself.
On a Monday, I drag uncle out to the curb.
I am an uncle, too. A tragic exuberance, dramatic, erudite, not a little bit anxious and largely unavailable. I have promised to be a father to no one.
Michael Todd Cohen
Michael Todd Cohen’s work appears in Columbia Journal, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, JMWW Journal and HAD, among others, and has been included in Best Micro Fictions, the Connecticut Literary Anthology, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives with a poet-husband and two illiterate chihuahuas, by a rusty lighthouse, in New England. For more: michaeltoddcohen.com.