Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This is kind of a silly post, I admit it. But it's relevant to me right now.

One of my hens, Cluck Norris, has gone broody. When a hen goes broody, she stops laying eggs, and she sits and sits and sits trying to hatch eggs. She's grumpy, has only one thing on her mind, and does not want to leave the nest for any reason.

Cluck is a beautiful bird. She has black feathers with a green sheen in the right light. She's an Australorp by breed, and a reliable layer (when she's not broody).

One day last week, she collected all five eggs laid that day from five hens, and she collected the five golf balls we use as "sucker eggs" to show the hens where to lay, and she plopped herself down on all of them and went broody. She put together a full clutch of 10 "eggs" - only one of them was hers - and decided it was time to become a mother.

But we don't have a rooster. She can sit on those eggs (and golf balls) all she wants and none of them will never hatch.

So I took the eggs and removed the golf balls from the nesting boxes, but she's still broody. She just sits there, all day, in an empty nest box. If another hen lays an egg in another box, she'll go and sit on that egg. When I approach her to remove her from the nest, her feathers hackle out. All she wants to do right now is just sit. She prefers to sit on eggs, but if there are no eggs there, she'll just pretend that there are, and still sit.

This morning I picked her up to move her off of the nest, and I noticed that she has plucked all of the feathers from between her legs, and so her soft chicken skin can be directly next to the eggs, and she can keep the eggs, and baby chicks, warm. I do not delude myself in thinking that she's aware, at all, of this process. It's all in a very basic part of her very basic brain. But feeling her soft, warm chicken skin, and seeing the few feathers still there, I thought of the pain I've endured to carry and birth a baby, only to have no baby to raise. And of the mothering hormones and instincts that snap in to place whether the baby lives or not.

In my 10 minutes of facetime with my partner today, where it was nearly 9 pm in Italy and not even noon here, I told him about Cluck's chicken skin, and that it makes me sad. He told me that she's just a stupid chicken and I should stop anthropomorphizing her.

My hackles went up.  

Cluck's feathers hackling up. 

Ready to keep baby chicks warm. I did bring her in the house to take the photo. She plucked herself so clean for the task. It reminded me of a bikini wax. 

One of today's eggs. I love the color. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

seven months today

we woke up this morning before 5am. i had to drive my husband to the airport, so he could fly to southern italy to teach for the week. i wish i could have made him take me this time. he's only been home for five days. i need a vacation.

i'm grounded at home with: 2 dogs, 1 cat here, 3 cats at the farm, my 16 year-old son, eight chickens in the yard, one chicken at the farm, seeds sprouting, tiny starts growing under lights. i'm not going anywhere right now.

i have a list of projects to distract me while he's away. today, i've accomplished none.  

i've cried a few times. not torrentially. partly cloudy with cloud bursts?  

undoubtedly the worst event of the week was learning that a close friend had her baby, and seeing pictures of the baby on fb. the baby she told me about the week nathaniel died. the baby was sweet and pink with a head full of dark hair.

i went to bed and wailed because my sweet baby died.

i miss him.

this is a picture of me and nathaniel right after he was born. 

this is a picture of the test announcing that nathaniel was coming! 

this is a picture i drew of nathaniel during our first trimester while i was traveling with my husband. i was trying to imagine what nathaniel might look like. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

perpetuum mobile

there are things that i have to do most every day. meals - prep, serve, clean. errands. appointments. laundry. 
drive the car in the rain.
the best chance for a shower is if i take a yoga class.
hygiene has taken on a new, changed standard in grief.

moving my family forward with the calendar and clock.  

the wallpaper of the world peels.


My husband is turning 50 next month. I did not want to throw a party, but my mom encouraged me. Told me it was important to celebrate and mark his 50th.

So I'm planning it. Striving to be a good wife and all. Trying to put on a good face and create a memorable event for my partner. 

talking about it with a friend:

friend: "I was glad to get the invitation to David's party and see that you're celebrating life again."

me: "I want people to come to David's birthday party, and I want them to dance and have fun, and not be completely sad."

friend: "Quit projecting. No one else is going to be sad. Everyone else is over it."   

me: silently scratching the name of this friend off of my ever-shrinking friend list. suuuch a bitch!


i feel like my body moves forward in time, but moves through the grief, sometimes, by sobs. sometimes i sob so hard i can't breathe. my lungs exhale completely and my diaphragm spasms and my whole body just shakes for a long time.

the only other time in my life that i remember sobbing like this was when i was very little, and it was frightening when i would cry so hard i couldn't inhale or breathe. i sob like that now, but i'm not afraid. 


how does your body grieve? what do you notice about your body and grief?

Theme song for the week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wild Geese

This poem by Mary Oliver comes up for me again and again. . .


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the praries and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I've loved this poem for years. I came to it a thousand times before Nathaniel to find a sense of freedom. I do not have to be good.  I only have to allow the soft animal part of my body love what it loves.

Now I come from it troubled.

What if the soft animal part of me is bloodied and battered? What if the soft animal part of me has been taken behind a back street and beaten? What if the soft animal part of me is not alive, but not entirely dead? 

The soft animal part of me loves my baby. That's the truest thing.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Themes of the day

how does the human spirit survive this loss?
will i?
negative space.
the world of the lost.
wisdom i never wanted.