John Levy

Letter to Dave Read, 5/14/21

Dear Dave,

For the last two weeks a pair of doves
has been attempting to build a nest

on part of an overhang
that provides shade for our front door. The female

changes position, occasionally, facing inward
or outward, while the male

brings long thin twigs, which he places
beside her before he flies off to gather more.

Each time she shifts, she knocks the twigs
down. The saddest sight

has been a broken egg on the ground.
For a day we rejoiced when neither

was up there; we thought, Finally,
they figured out how futile the spot is, but

they returned. Leslie put a flower pot up
near them, weighed down with dirt and rocks,

hoping they’d choose that. After two days
they found it, which we knew

from all the dirt they’d kicked out.
A worm from her garden, Leslie guessed,

may have been their goal. Ah,
parenting, who among us

can throw the first stone? Other news?
We’ve seen our first rattlesnake and gila monster

of the year, but no scorpion yet. I had
an appointment at the Bank of America

this morning, to get a document notarized, and
arrived on time, to find an empty parking lot

and a sign: TEMPORARILY CLOSED, background
red. Were the letters black or white? Ah, memory,

you are unreliable. I drove to another bank, which didn’t
have a notary, but a clerk told me their branch

a few miles away has three notaries. I arrived there
and was informed they had one, who was

incredibly upbeat and kind. The word trivia
is longer than the word haiku, and should be.

Trivium is from Latin, a place where three ways
meet. I just spent about two minutes, unable

to believe my eyes, because the word in the OED
after Trivet is Trivial, not Trivia. I feel as baffled

as those two doves may feel (though it seems they don’t,
since they haven’t given up) (and yes, I realize

doves do not experience the same emotional states
I do) (hard to resist three parenthetical statements, which

makes me think of the word triumvirate, obviously
for no good reason). Back to Trivial in the OED, though.

There are many definitions, most of them now obscure.
One, surprising to me, is that in Natural History

the word is applied to the names of animals and plants
(to distinguish common or “vulgar” names

from the scientific ones). Should I insert a haiku here?
Or throw in the kitchen sink? I wonder what objects

other languages cite
for the act of trying everything imaginable.

I can’t imagine the Japanese saying, “Throw in a haiku.”
I wish I had a spot I could direct

the doves to; I’d place upon it a shallow
kitchen sink, and in my dream they realize

it is perfect, perfect for their nest.

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