January with Jane- 12. Contentment (in which i find myself resonant with the little red hen resisting the coop)

I had lived on this earth

more than fifty years

before hearing the sound

of sixteen New Hampshire Reds

settling in before sleep.

Dusk gathered

like a handkerchief

into a pouch

of clean straw.

But only fifteen

adjusted themselves

on the wooden couch.

One, with more white in her feathers

than the feathers of the others,

still wandered outside,

away from the chuckling

some quiet joke

neither she nor I quite heard.

“The foxes will have you, ” i told her.

She scratched the ground,

found a late insect to feast on,

set her clipped beak to peck at my shoe.

Reached for, she ran.

Ran from the ramp

I herded her toward as well.

I tried raccoons, then cold.

I tried stew,

She found a fresh seed.

Her legs were white and clean

and appeared very strong.

We ran around the coop

that way a long time,

she seeming delighted, I flapping.

Darkness, not I, brought her in.

Perusing the volume of Jane’s poetry (Come, Thief, 2011) this morning, distracted by texts from dear friends – a phone call from my daughter – my husband at last deciding now was the time (and needing my help) to hang the bathroom cabinet I’ve been wanting – resettling items neatly into that pristine cabinet from the cluttered drawer – my hungry belly – my husband again needing help figuring out how to use his phone for a task – sending him on his way – settling again into the chair by the fire with the slim book, dog earing pages that stirred (curiosity or something more)- oh, now up the stairs to relieve myself – then (while i was up!) climbing a few flights up and down to ‘get in my steps’ – here, I sit again, settling myself at last like those hens on the wooden couch.

Still uncertain the poem that will be my prayer for the day, I decide to let fate choose, and open the book randomly to one of those dogeared an hour ago. Puttering about the house, choring, this morning it was one of the few that had stuck , and so I, too, chuckled at the joke not quite heard.

It was that last line, of course, the zinger, that had struck my heart still earlier, struck a chord resonant, but desiring to resist another day’s reflecting upon the richness of darkness to turn one’s vision inward to depths unattended in the mundane, I’d withheld my pen from RSVPing to its invitation, sighing, silently, at its redundacy.

But here, see! the title of the poem, Contentment!!. She, (and I too resonant, late in this long-day-that-is life as I am) is feasting, in the last glimmers of evening light, upon late morsels of delectable delicacy, fresh seeds still to be gleaned, even now. Playfulness embodied, at last, unruffled by the spector of cold or fear of death. And what of those white, clean legs, strong, not for running away , no not that, but for delight, like a child squealing while being chased, or Julie Andrews spinning, arms wide as her heart at the sound of music alive in every hill and lake and tree.

And that is how it feels to me, during this season of my life — filled with nurture, delight, contentment, not wanting this day to end. The darkness, with which I am so fondly familiar, is today a tender memory that informs this season of light, this autumn dusk with its riot of color above as below. this grasping of (not at) the goodness gleaming in the ground of it all, myself and you, earth and heaven.

Fully aware that darkness will fall and befall one day– distant or near– may this memory of light then be what is carried into that place to inform. But for now, I’ll not go gentle into that good night .

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