When the Mourning Doves Fly Home by Kamryn Sage

Hours crawled along while my bones grew brittle and stiff
Only the muffled frostiness of the concrete beneath my blanket kept my eyes aware
Musty clothes and scents of wet dog floated up my nostrils and invaded my lungs
Everyday seemed the same now, faces of businessmen and busy mothers all blurred together
Less than ten dollars occupied my holy pockets
Enough to get a few hits from the boys under Second Street bridge
Suspicious of the impending violence that nightfall brought to crowded allies, I gathered myself
Several layers of tattered clothes kept me company as I shuffled down forgotten streets
Nobody knew my name anymore, and frankly nobody cared to know
Everlasting loneliness made its ugly face unforgettable on nights like these
Second Street neared and familiar hues of blue and black tarps reflected flames of small fires
Soon, I joined the mass of scattered bodies shivering under Second Street Bridge

Bearing the weight of a heavy heart, I climbed up earthy mounds of rubble
Utop the mounds sat the boys’ camp, grazing the underbelly of the bridge
Red coals steamed from an old oil drum and I placed my hands over the comforting heat
Numerous men sat around the drum smoking, their dirty faces were wrinkled and stained
Stinging, pungent fragrances of smoked chemicals filled the air as I paid my toll to the devil

Finally, away from the rows of tarps and tents, I made my way through the darkness of nightfall
Reaching into my shirt, I felt the reassuring coolness of a Mourning Dove pendant in my fingers
Etched into the Dove’s breast was that sickly sweet word, ‘Dad’
Even though laughter and friendly chatter spilled from windows and bars, I was alone
Down a few twisting roads, I found myself underneath a towering tree in City Park, euphoric
Often times, I thought of myself as a strong man, but as I lay there in the dark, I felt death
My body was old and I couldn’t hold on much longer, but before I slipped away I
Saw a single Mourning Dove take flight, leaving behind a life of cold nights for summer days