waiting for something to hatch

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that.
…Because what the world needs
is people who are alive.” Howard Thurman

This afternoon, a goose and I sat in prayer, be-holding each other  –she, perched on her nest (not much more than a depression in the earth atop that man-made brim of a lake), and I, perched on the damp wooden seat of a bench, butted up against the parking lot, perhaps 15 feet from her.  Though she was not really ever completely still – in truth, she spent quite a bit of the time preening — now and again she would stand, ostensibly to roll the eggs over so they could benefit from her warmth.   I knew she was simply restless, in that way of mothers everywhere, trying to get as comfortable as possible while confined to 2 square feet of earth.  Wordlessly, I asked her how it was for her to sit that way, unnaturally exposed on this domesticated plot, displayed in a way she might not otherwise be were she not attending to those eggs in this place.  Her reply? –her only recourse – lie low.  Domestication does that to a creature. 

I wonder if her wings alternately grow stiff, and then twitch… if she dreams of flight as she sleeps.

 Of course, I know she won’t abandon her nest, don’t expect nor desire her to, but I’ve learned that she won’t even leave  for something to eat while incubating those eggs. Fasting eliminates feces after all (no substance to digest) so predators might not identify her nest by its fecund scent, (though there are in reality few predators here to stir her to life, so little environmental miscellany in this whitewashed, mani-cured, loss of habitat).  Starvation makes a mother just a little crazy.

No food, no trace of fecundity, and just a little crazy….domestication does that to a creature too.

How was it for her, last evening, to sit unprotected through that sudden severe thunderstorm, through this morning’s plummet in temperature, when so easily her wings or feet could’ve carried her to shelter?  Was this merely instinct of one sort overruling another or did her lack of nourishment make her numb to the pummeling, the way other geese have frozen to death during 3 foot snowfalls through which they sat tight. Did the pummeling almost push her over the edge this time?  

 I wonder what she’ll do once those goslings are hatched and fledged, assuming nothing addles the eggs that she’s brooding? Will she fly then, back to that lake up north? Or will she and her mate decide to simply remain, die here, no longer heeding that ancient, instinctual, but somehow suppressed, urge for flight.* 

 Does she yearn for those long sacred journeys; Does something in her memory stir when she hears the instinctual call of that great quest for home;  Does she remember the feeling of power in her wings, which caused her own breast to swell—grow fuller, more muscular, lean; Can she even recall what it is like to trust those internal navigational instincts? 

God, I wish she would hiss at me….God, I wish she would hiss at me!

 I once imagined myself a swan, an ugly duckling to be more precise, but I always knew that the swan lay in wait, deep within. For many years she was a totem of mine, though the turtle has supplanted her in my consciousness these recent years.  Still, each spring, when the cacophonous migration of snow geese and swans passes overhead , my heart threatens to hatch from my chest, re-join them at last, and take flight.  I am drawn to their riotous racket.

For too long these skies have been silent.

There is this rising in me. It rises up through ‘I-cannot-keep-silent-and-still in prayer any longer’. Lately, I’ve wondered if silence for me has not simply become pacifying, anesthetizing. SilencING. I find myself craving movement and sound and image   … a camera, a paintbrush… for beauty to become embodied — alive once again in me! 

It rises up in defiance of this stifling voice, the one which decrees I can’t speak for fear of breaking some rule or some role, when all that I am wants to sing, or to honk, or to shout, or cry out…. express this feeling that comes with no words.

It rises, strugglng to thrust out from this 2 foot circumference, in which I am permitted to move just enough to shift my position in order to ease what’s grown numb;  out from this ‘thin line’ and narrow tightrope on which I must tiptoe … when the entire sky and vast fields beckon ‘out beyond ideas of right and wrong’. 

 It rises up with this yearning for something fierce, full of passion, instinctual, with this yearning to feel like i am who i am and to breathe, free from the bonds of gentility.

I long for my own wilderness.



* in this out-of-balance environment, many canada geese no longer migrate. Manicured properties,  which destroy more ecologically balanced habitats, provide ideal, ready-made food for geese and eliminate predators, creating environments where canada geese become pests and their feces toxic.  For many persons, they no longer symbolize life’s great journey in that space between heaven and earth , but rather have become nuisances. What feels even more out-of-balance to me is the concurrent loss of balance for the instinct-injured goose itself.  No longer balancing time spent on the ground nurturing family with time spent in the sky on that great migration, no longer following instincts for both community and nesting, no longer listening to that powerful instinct for survival that is their migratory instinct, their very survival is threatened as communities adopt practices to reduce their numbers.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. emmaatlast
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 09:50:37

    Notes on instinct from Women who run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which I took off of my shelf again this morning.

    This wolf-woman Self must have freedom to move, to speak, to be angry, and to create. This Self is durable, resilient, and possesses high intuition. It is a Self which is knowledgeable in the spiritual dealings of death and birth. p. 36

    When I speak of over domestication as capture, I do not refer to socialization, the process whereby children are taught to behave in more or less civilized ways. Social development is critical and important. Without it, a woman cannot make her way in the world.

    But too much domestication is like forbidding the vital essence to dance. In its proper and healthy state, the wild self is not docile or vacuous. It is alert and responsive to any given movement or moment. It is not locked into an absolute and repetitive pattern for any and all circumstances. It has creative choice. The instinct-injured woman has no choice. She just stays stuck. p. 233

    When we think of reclamation it may bring to mind bulldozers or carpenters, the restoration of an old structure, and that is the modern usage of the word. However, the older meaning is this: The word reclamation is derived from the old French reclaimer, meaning “To call back the hawk which has been let fly.” Yes, to cause something of the wild to return when it is called. It is therefore by its meaning an excellent word for us. We are using the voices of our minds, our lives, and our souls to call back intuition, imagination; to call back the Wild Woman. And she comes.
    p. 459.



  2. Linda Lee
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 11:52:37

    These are desperate words. My dry tongue laps at them like it does for water. I read and then re-read them, and they soon become my song, too. There are many of us who are also feeling these desperate feelings, I believe.



  3. Trackback: charting a course? « Emmaatlast’s Weblog

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