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David Baker, from Treatise on Touch

Unconditional Election

We have decided now to kill the doves
- November the third, nineteen ninety-nine —
who gather in great numbers in the fields
of Ohio, vast and diminishing,

whose call is grey and cream, wing-on-the-wind.
I lean from the deck to hear their mourning
cry, like the coo of a human union.

They persevere as song in the last days.
Or is it the wind I hear this morning,
crossing the great, cold lake, the hundred dry
miles of fields cut down to stubble and rust?

The rain gauge, hollow as a finger bone,
lifts to survey the stiffening breeze.
The boards of our deck are a plank bridge
hanging over nothing, the season's abyss.

When we decided not to have the child,
how could we know the judgment would carry
so far? — each breath, each day, another
renewal of our no. A few frail leaves
hurry now dryly in waves at my feet.

The doves have no natural predator,
so we will be their fate. We will prowl
the brown fields, taking aim at the wind,
or huddle inside in the lengthening dark.

It no longer matters who is right. Their cry
comes from both sides of the window at once.