Rookie Mom, in Her Kitchen, at Twilight

by Laurie Klein

With thanks to J.B. Priestly

She sits as one might in a pew, watching
the nest, with its on-and-off robin
stockinged in brown, the bright apron
a blur. So many errands.

When the bird finally settles,
How taxing, the woman thinks,
to brood alone over the future, beating
hearts pressed into the gap.

Yet don’t the living always
mother something or other,
enact the urgent to-do alongside
the no-can-do? Tail feathers flick,
tick, rhythmic as household
clockwork—apt to run down.
Ever-wed to the winding key,
inside its carved house of wood

the cuckoo is bound to return.
And the snail-eating robin will come
to know the spectator’s face. Delicate
trust unfurls despite peevish onslaughts—

sparrows, husbands, children with big ideas.
Nod, if you’d like to be found faithful,
unfazed by a hectoring world. Just once,
to glow, as if candled: innocent as an egg.

Laurie Klein is the author of House of 49 Doors: entries in a life (Poeima/Cascade, 2024)

Photography by Kenneth Godoy

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