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Turtle Dove ~'love and constancy is dead' - The Phoenix and the Turtle

Let’s face it, you’ve never really heard

more than my pleading, my turr, turr, turr

Before turning away to devotion in distances

Only kept alive by citied illusions of love:

Once in a field suffused with late summer

We shared the crude secrets of the seed

As I sang ‘dove’, to Senegal your island mind,

And world an ‘us’, rolled in love’s migration,

But no, you wintered out the underworld

Tinkering away a self in the soul’s shed,

While I in vain sent you African postcards

Invitations to come rhyme on sisterly wings,

I sang to seduce you to trust; you missed

All the signs, blinded by love’s brand,

Till you sliced me to pieces in metaphors

And adored me in the dark of your fist.

Blossom snows white on the iron thorn

Refugee tears fall over spring’s resistance,

I return here to find you, dirty pants down

Fawning, gasping over her mutilated body

In the abused farmscape of our love, warm

From the chemical sprayings of dawn

I will fight, I will bite, but cannot struggle away

From the pesticidal lines of your poetry,

As black as Dreams, beetles wing the edge of doom,

Where twilight blooms petal lips for a deadly kiss,

You hum a way home past landfills of denial, saved

By the constant turr-turr-turr from out of the grave.

My source of song, stone dry under burning skies

My dreams of survival drain, small and far away

Like the clouded face of God on a summer’s day:

If you have money, there’s nothing you can’t buy.


A once familiar sight and a sound often associated with the British summer, the turtle dove has declined by a staggering 97% since 1970 and now resides on the Global Red List for Endangered Species.

The Turtle Dove has often been used as a metaphor for love by poets around the world.

The bird migrated annually from England to sub-Saharan Africa. Thousands are shot on its flights through Southern Europe.

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