“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 to my nostrils and invaded my lungs

Every day 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