Shelter in Place

Schools are shuttered     everything is cancelled     and my body has become

an extension of my house     this shift is strange     but not entirely unfamiliar

the way a cardinal’s home     is a disordered stick bomb     just about captures

how I feel

        how the mother bird uses her shape     as a template to form her nest

shoving sticks together     in a fit of random engineering     randoming would be

the verb I guess     or jamming as it applies to me

                                                                                a steady state of hysteresis

in which applied pressure     changes the ensemble     in which the structure

bounces back     but not completely

                                                      I’ve been thinking

of ways to speak     to my children about fear     how to be adaptive

I want to tell them     about zebra finches     who are content in captivity

and who unlike robins     which favor mud as cement     make their nests

from anything they find     strips of paper or string     fibers from a coconut husk

I want to stress     that these elements the finches assemble     seem haphazardly

placed but behave collectively     how there’s a logic buried     deep in the mother

building her nest     which is a story of the nature of her body     as every child’s

first home     that we don’t struggle alone     as the architects of our days

that nature will continue     to amaze us      in ways we don’t expect

Copyright © 2020 by Tina Cane. Originally published in Love’s Executive Order, March 2020. Reprinted with permission of the author.