Several days before I was to die
A white dove flew into my garden.
It had one black spot on its tail,
As though a drop of ink had soiled
Its purity. It looked at me
As birds do: head sideways,
Neck twisted, almost upside down;
Then went the other way, fluttered,
Cooed, straightened, and stared at me
With more than human stillness. Our eyes
Met, and I felt some understanding
Pass between us, as though it sensed
I was to die and felt compassion.
And then I knew that I would live.
Weeks after my miracle
The dove returned, nesting near me,
An ordinary bird. Of course
I hold it dear. But who lived in
Its eyes? Whose compassion sent
The silent thoughts that turned my will?
I know my own imagination
May have spoken through the bird,
Lifting me from death. But surely
What we'll never understand
Far surpasses what we know.
The dove knows more than we. And I,
Returned from death, am like a boulder
Lifted up and left upon the shore
By some majestic wave.
Copyright by Nicholas Gordon