Shelter In Place

By Tina Cane

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 

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