Think of the dovecote as a prototype
of the columbarium—rows of small hollows

stacked in soft rock or clay to house 
these small-breasted birds. Slender-billed 

and dusky, purplish-backed, russet-crowned. 
Shining Imperial, Pompadour Green, Bleeding 

Heart pigeons and Emerald Doves of the family 
Columbidae. Some are bred for their homing skills, 

a kind of innate sense that is both compass 
and map: guarantee they'll find a way to fly 

home and not to any other place. Perhaps
today is the day my mother finally finds 

her own way home, after months of illness 
and years of tribulation. Her skin is almost 

the sheen and featherblue of birds. Like theirs, 
her bones will hollow out, the skull become 

lighter so it does not weigh her down in the air. 

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