Body as the Disrupted Migratory Habits
of New England Mourning Doves
of New England Mourning Doves
Each year the mourning doves fly south. Like the body, they are endless in their migration both toward and away. The process is not “easy” as humans might say. Birds do not understand “easy”. In fact, we do not know if the birds even have a way to describe a sense of ease. Instead, their movements are the calibrated result of need. Doves must breed, doves must safely nest and eat; doves are concerned, foremost, with their own survival. The body requires the same comfort and safety and sustenance. This is survival. While the doves embark upon long journeys toward ideas that become memory, their bodies begin to become a complex system of memory. Consider first the act of preparation: A migrating dove must travel hundreds of miles in search of winter feeding grounds. This is a process of exchange. The bird exchanges body mass for energy in flight. This is mathematical and formulaic. A mourning dove will carefully alter their metabolism to survive and thrive during the rigors of flight. It is argued that this is genetic. Birds do what birds do. They will feed and rest and preen and molt. Migration is when we categorize survival as having a direction, such as toward or away. Once prepared for their journey, doves will fly south in smaller pieces like a simple machine that slowly become more whole. It begins with a distinctly avian restlessness. The young take notice of the shortening days and new winds carried by creeping Autumn. Soon after, the females will flee the frayed ends of their summer nests, followed still some time after by the males. Be reminded that doves do not understand our human things—they simply desire to not die and continue to do as birds do. The doves do not know that the human body is comprised of eleven elements, or that our thoughts are literally electric. Like birds we eat and drink and conserve our energies. Like birds we migrate along our own latitudinal lines, moving up and down rungs on our unsturdy ladders. A dove will prepare extensively for their journey; human beings are most frequently taken abruptly by what an ornithologist would call disruption. Disruption is what we call survival when the need appears unexpectedly and without plan. A populous is scattered or broken. Among doves, common causes might include a sudden, sharp increase in predator activity or an unsubstantiated population boon. Disruption is unexpected like a flat tire or someone lingering their eyes too long in the subway. Humans do not travel flyways down the coast nor do they forage in dirt for small insects and worms. Remember the dirt and grime while you consider that bodies are constantly in disruption, always pushing against each other to get more space. Mourning doves fly 1,500 miles to winter feeding grounds in flocks of chirping birds singing calls—they don’t sit alone in the middle of the night running their fingers against the bones of their ribcage. Doves take off and fill the sky and then they can go somewhere away—but this body is here like it is always here. When the doves are disrupted they leave but where do we get to go?
Danielle Rose lives with her partner and their two cats in Massachusetts. She is the managing editor of Dovecote Magazine and used to be a boy.