Her tree stretches up and out. I hung a small bell patina-ed green. Her tree is still small, but taller than my husband. When it dropped its leaves this year, they blushed from red to yellow to green, top to bottom, like the rainbow. I kissed Lucy's tree when I was stacking wood beside it. It caught me off guard. I thought of it and kissed it and then thought myself crazy.
We search the nooks of our postage stamp backyard, looking for gnome homes.
I am crazy, possibly silly.
Beatrice hears an owl. "Mama, mama, I hear an owl saying, 'whooo, whooo.'"
"That is the sound of the mourning dove, my angel."
"Because it is morning?"
"No, because it is in mourning, grieving."
Like us, I think. Are we still mourning? No, we are something else. We are just doves, cooing and sounding sad, rooting for coffee in the rocks. They still call us the mourning ones. We lost our baby once. She flew from the womb and out the door and into another bird nest. It rested above a bell that chimed every time she sang.
The mourning doves bleat. Or coo. Or weep. Or keen in the sunlight, nesting in the river rocks that circle our house like a moat. I watch them scurry, like rodents, when I approach. They protect their nest, or mourn their nest. Their song makes them mysterious, but I cannot help but think them ridiculous when I see them waddle away into the driveway.
Their grief makes them sound like owls, like night hunters, like something other than defenseless, featherbrained doves.
Whoooooo can save me?
They sing their dirge.
Whooooo will sit with me?
It is a eulogy.
Whooooo will accompany me to the underworld, save her soul?
The doves bring compassion and absurdity, like a comedic Greek Chorus.
Whooooo are you? Really? When the daughter dies, whoooo do you become? Whoooo do you mourn? She whoooo never breathed. She whoooo only slightly came into being. Whooooo was she even?
Whooo are you even?
It never gets easier to write her name amongst the dead. I do it every year. I write their names every month, on the top of my blog, but when it is her name, it catches me up. I hiccup in sadness. It sounds like the croak of a dove, mournful but silly.