This is a Dove

This is a Dove

This is a dove, I think. I’ve never been good at bird identification. That’s funny, now that my job is picking up dead ones killed by the windmills’ spinning blades. There are 60 windmills in this “wind farm,” lots of dead birds. I think I might get a book. I mean, I can tell an eagle from a sparrow, but is that really a sparrow laying there with his neck broke, or a wren? It would be respectful to know.

I never studied much in school. I left after the eighth grade. It was too hard for my dad to get me to town, to the high school. I was happy to be on the farm. But in the end, I couldn’t keep farming, not enough land, not enough money for new equipment. There’s only so much repair you can do until you’re done. Everything literally falls apart. That’s how I ended up with a job like this.

But I don’t need much money. The farmhouse and land was paid off long ago. I have a well so my utilities are minimal. I don’t leave the lights on—my mom taught me that. I don’t have a wife, no car payment. I fix my own truck, no problem. ’55 Chevy’s are easy, no computers or nothing, and I have spare parts in the barn.

I like a job where no one bothers me. I drive my pick-up around the township. Even as a kid I liked how the township looks in different seasons, and I like the cold. The colder the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Birds are pretty in death, unlike humans who are spooky and grey. I once stood at a casket and studied my uncle Kep, studied him the way I’d never studied in school. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, my favorite uncle, always telling lame jokes. Afterward I felt sick for a week, lost about ten pounds, couldn’t keep a thing down.

But Audubon discovered long ago that dead birds are pretty. He killed a lot of them to make paintings. I have a few of those prints on my walls. I got them in a yard sale. I had them on my walls even before I got this job. Funny, isn’t it, how we prepare ourselves for our fates without even knowing it?

Work by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois appears in magazines worldwide, including THE VISITANT. Nominated for numerous prizes, he was awarded the 2017 Booranga Centre (Australia) Fiction Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and as a print edition. His poetry collection, THE ARREST OF MR. KISSY FACE, published in March 2019 by Pski’s Porch Publications, is available on Amazon.


[image: Mourning Dove | Mark Martin]

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