all I have / by Christina Rosalie

Tonight the air was still, snow fell, the fire burned, and I felt utterly small and stupid in the narrow little cocoon of my life. Tonight the sum of all my efforts thus far are two boys who wont shut up and a husband who has his own issues and a job I don’t (mostly) know how to do. The novel waits. The dreams wait. And already, I am half way through my life. This breaks my heart.

And then.

I go out with leftover noodles for the chickens. The air is biting, and the fresh snow clings to my boots. When I push open the coop door the light is on. The chickens are all on their roosts, bodies pressed together for warmth. I dump the pasta and watch. One by one they fly down. Awkwardly. Heavily. They thud to floor until they're all there and in a moment all the noodles are gone and they busy themselves drinking and idly scratching. The rooster, ever randy, seizes the opportunity, and the docile hens buckle beneath his weight. Everything simply is. The night. The cold. This small insignificant act of procreation. All of it.

One by one they return to roost. Each flying up to the lower roost first, then the higher one. They find their spot, hunker down, preen, tuck their heads beneath their wings. Gradually each chicken finds her place, and the rooster too. Finally they’re all there, on the roost, and suddenly in the cold quiet air I can hear them breathing.

Softly, rhythmically. Unexpected.

Inhale, exhale. I find my own breath rising up in a cloud on the cold air; synchronizing as I sit in the corner, and for a moment I am away from the noise of my boys, my house, the constant forceful repetition of the same small daily tasks. I wait, listening to them breathe until I can return to my life.

Then I do.

This is all I have.