They did it again. The adult mourning doves returned to the balcony and were nesting by June 17. June 30 saw not two but only one baby. This time, I did not take as many photos, but checked in every day. Today, worried for the rain, I saw the baby who had been left on its own last night was still there, and when I checked back a few hours later, saw it take its first ( for me, anyway) steps on the grates of the balcony. Then I came back in two hours and discovered an empty nest. Once again, I rushed down the stairs to see if it was in the yard. I saw a snake lying in an S shape a few yards away, but surely, it could not have eaten the baby. From a distance, I tried to see of I could make out a lump in its stomach. I heard a mourning dove coo faintly from deep in woods. Had the baby simply flown? It had been a month, after all, and it had received food meant for two.
Tomorrow, I will once again clear away the nest, and clean up the umbrella. Maybe I can have my balcony back. To sit outside on a chair, and read, maybe with the umbrella installed and open. Or will the parents return for a third brood?
It is tomorrow, and I still hear the faint cooing. A giant moth has attached itself to the window screen. If mourning doves symbolize new beginnings, moths suggest a person pay attention to discern the unreal from the real. Sitting at my desk, overlooking the balcony, I see a world unfold. The bee that’s discovered the pansies which are still blooming, and the fuschia. The two hummingbirds that visit the salvia. Oh, there is one now. The larger world is filled with death and life, and this balcony is a microcosm. A play of entrances and exits. Above, the canopy of sun and starlight. Below, the earth in its radient charm.
This time in my aunt’s house, in Chennai. Can time be measured in circling ceiling fans, beating back the heat? In the afternoons, perhaps, but mornings, papers rustle, the breeze cool. It’s been almost ten years since I’ve been here last. The family has gotten smaller, and grief leaks. My father; my uncle. Meals are served, the rustling papers read. Outrage over the news. Could not a million be spent than in the personal acquisition of Princess Diana’s private letters? Imagine if that money was given to produce a play based on the letters instead. The best line I’ve recently read is in Interred with Their Bones, a novelby Jennifer Lee Carrell: “If you must choose a church, go to the theater.”
Yes, in India, musing about the royals, reading about Shakespeare, under a circling ceiling fan. Outside, the air is thick with the noise of traffic, worship, capitalism. The indifferent cows only come out at night.