Oliver de la Paz

Aubade with Doves a Television and Fire

The gunwales of a ship at sea are on fire
and the fact that something in water blazes
keeps us awake for hours. At the edge of the boat
people jump over the railing, braving both
the flames and water. Still,

in the screen glare we catch
the way we sleep in summer.
No shoulder between us
can say this deeply. The ship
bleeds off the television’s edge
like a thief. The captain is a handsome man

who kept a dovecote next to the life rafts.
It is a useless thing, the doves
never leaving their cages. The clipped
ridges of their wings is an affront—the birds
pinwheel into the ocean, interfering
with a helicopter blade’s hard whirl.

The birthmark on your wrist
reflects light from the cathode
as birds saw the air. Dawn
blurs the picture leaving ghosts.

It is horrible, the birds burn, but even more,
the captain cries because the food in their cages
boils, smelling of sweet corn in a June from his childhood.

Our beautiful captain stands on the deck
and you’re in love with him
because of his burnished medallions and his grief.
Despite the flaw in the television, the instinct to love
is the exact memory of flight for mourning doves.

we love similar failures: night’s lost composition,
fire’s leaf-like clamor, new light’s stutter
as pigeons ascend to our rooftop.

Oliver de la Paz

Posted on December 27, 2006 9:20 AM