634: Nest

634: Nest

634: Nest


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

How many of us have been waiting patiently — or not so patiently — for spring? For everything to bloom, for the trees to leaf out, for the animals that have been hiding all winter to come streaming through the yard in bursts of fur and feathers? I know I have. Lately, each morning when I walk the dog, I feel desperate for warmth, for the good news that sun brings. Even the dog seems excited for the days when she doesn’t need her sweater to keep her warm.

The winter, the long winter here, is fading, and maybe where you are the early spring flowers have bloomed, and perhaps it's almost time to put a few plants in the ground, the lettuces, the radishes, all the things that are easily nibbled upon by the rabbits and squirrels.

Each spring, I have a battle with a stubborn robin who wishes to build her nest on our front porch light. Each year I put up a shiny tin milagro of the sacred heart — a tiny, heart shaped charm — to dissuade her from nesting in such a precarious spot. I think the reflection of it, the shininess of it will make her turn around and nest elsewhere. Still, she comes, eager to lay eggs on a porch light.

I’ll admit this, each year she wins. Before I’ve even gathered the strength to remove the first layer of long grasses and threads she’s gathered, suddenly, as if overnight, a gorgeous, sturdy nest is built. And, of course, my husband and I agree that — all spring — we just won’t turn the porch light on.

She just makes her nest now right on top of the milagro of the sacred heart. Instead of encouraging her to go elsewhere, I think she believes I’ve decorated her preferred spot with a pretty shiny heart. I’ve gussied up her apartment with a symbol of wellbeing. There are symbols everywhere. She’s a sign of spring, sitting on a sacred heart, on top of a light.

In today’s poem, the poet has created a world in which all the animals come out and together there’s a unifying sense of safety and belonging.

by Sarah Arvio

And then there came a day that was a day
a world of my wanting with you in it

and all the small creatures came to our side
mewing and cheeping as small creatures do

a day I had wanted for a long time
a small-creature hour in the life of our day

where there were many places to lie down
and sigh and sleep and cogitate and hug

a huge happening among the small lives
a little cuddle with a dream in it

a coddled egg   an apron with a bib
a nest for nourishing the ragged nerves

O robin O rabbit O bat O tiny vole
all flyers and burrowers   come to us now

through our heat ducts and tear ducts and chimneys
come to us with your small-world intentions

that place where only we know how to live
where no one else knows what we say and do

no one knows the crumbs or the flies we eat
or the silly songs we hum as we sleep

"Nest" by Sarah Arvio, from CRY BACK MY SEA copyright © 2021 Sarah Arvio. Used by permission of Penguin Random House.