The National Catholic Review
Mourning doves mired in snowy boughs
as stillness resounds. Knots of spare song,
tawny against an embered sky.
A whirring within their buffed chests
steadies them against the cold.
They lean toward each other,
heads cloaked by stilled wings.

But one must take flight, rile
sunken branches, release
a dirge for shunned paths.
Who else could be so sorrowful?
Yesterday, my husband hauled
the Christmas tree deep into the woods.
As stripped limbs eclipsed his form,
my heart dragged on the ground
with the point of the fallen tree.

Now it is truly fallen and ousted from the house,
an act we postpone until the boughs yellow
and the gift-bearing travelers kneel.
This year was a hard search,
long into darkness, during the first snow.
At last, a Douglas fir
in the west window shed its lustrous scent.
This year my gift ornament
was a pewter dove, wings hurled
open, as if troubling a descent
to peace. It glinted off red-ribboned trumpets,
caroling cherubs, wayward birds.
Will it surprise us next year,
or will we carry it within?
Outside, the doves are lifting off.
Snow shimmies, lost to itself for good.


Mary Fister received her M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and now teaches at the University of Hartford. Her poems have appeared in The Berkeley Poetry Review, Southern Humanities Review, Ploughshares and The Massachusetts Review

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