It’s a strange phenomenon, the empty nest syndrome. I didn’t see it coming. Our last child moved away. What was it about the last one? Perhaps, because the move is overseas, it hits that much harder. Perhaps not. Why don’t we hear more about what women experience with empty nest? I know men go through it too. I read about it online. I am grateful for the number of resources we have now at our fingertips. When I moved away from home, my mother had none of these resources available to her. We are a lucky generation.
Here’s the poem I wrote the day after “he” left. Oh, I know. It’s a little dramatic. Allow me the luxury of a few days of wallowing. It feels good.
The Defeathered Nest
This morning, the wooden swing collapsed.
I didn’t feel its shaky inner core, or acknowledge the old stories hidden by soft down pillows. The seat graced the underneath of an arbor decked in yellow honeysuckle, grounded by feathered ferns, purple passionflowers, doves roosting—a royal spot to savor black tea with cream.
I didn’t see it coming, didn’t see it.
I did hear the final crashing breath that ripped apart its history.
Surprised like an ice-skater skidding, unprepared for the rawness of a fall, slashed by icicles on proverbial walls, I didn’t see it coming.
The pillowed buffer, the seat, ensconced in pine needles, once shiny cedar, now in pieces, planks splintered across concrete by an explosive SLAM.
Just in time for his leaving.
The boy moved.
Ten thousand miles away. Another country. Another continent. To a land of dust, sand and tree plantings.
“Maybe I’ll return for Thanksgiving,” (“maybe not”) The boy moved. He’s not returning. I know it. I’m not going to feather that certainty.
I didn’t see it coming.
I cannot compete with Jerusalem, its mists, its hills, its fresh pita bread and steaming Turkish coffee.
The swinging seat, our favorite conversation spot. I tossed the vanilla biscuits and loose-leaf tea into the birdbath.
“All is well,” I say. “I’m doing this and that and that and this and bla, bla, bla, I bleat back to “you should do this, you should do that, you should, you should, you must not feel…”
A roaring wind rushes through the tops of white-blossomed dogwood trees.
I lie face-down in a concrete nest.