Known best for his love poems, Pablo Neruda also wrote about chickens.
Estoy cansada de las gallinas:
nunca supimos lo que piensan,
y nos miran con ojos secos
sin concedernos importancia.
In Cierto Cansancio, he wrote about being weary of chickens, among other things: “no one knows what they are thinking,/ and they look at us with dry eyes/and consider us unimportant.”
“And they do. . . and we are,” Greg Brown said while picking away at his guitar after recalling the gist of this poem. He added, during an incomparable fourteen-minute ramble in a live performance of Canned Goods, “It’s just hard to take it from a damn chicken.”
Embedded in me is a certain weariness. I am weary of taking out the dogs and cleaning up after them. I am weary of driving. I am weary of others’ errors and of continuing bureaucratic insults. (Just last night, a survey firm called and asked if Jim was available. I said that given his death he wasn’t going to be, that I had reported this to the same entity before, and that such calls needed not to happen again; my tone yielded a “Duly noted” and a hasty retreat.)
I am weary of a winter that, in New England terms, has barely touched ground.
I am weary of weariness itself, of the absence of plateaus and zest and joy.
It is as if grief shears off parts of an emotional spectrum—there are ranges of feeling I no longer can muster, as if they were foreign languages I desperately wish I could speak. I see other people engaging effortlessly in happiness, native speakers. I remember feeling truly happy during our last family vacation together. But I can’t remember what it was like.
Since Jim died I have felt fear, pain, loss and profound loneliness. At times I have felt physically ill with worry about my children. I also have felt immense pride in them, and satisfaction in the things I still can do. And I have felt much love. But the joy has been missing, and I miss it.
Now at least there are times we smile at a thought, a memory, a picture–in our hand or in our mind–of Jim. And we have laughed, though not always with our former abandon.
“Laughter will come,” the Reverend said at Jim’s service, “and it’s a good thing.”
And it will, and it is.
Maybe laughter is the baby step towards experiencing joy.
(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon