The Cabbage of Illumination

Standard
Animated_cabbage

Chicken tetherball (GIF)

Chickens peck at the cool, fresh globe
stabbed by an eyescrew, hung by a chain,

heads bobbing with each playful bite
as they bat the food-toy one to the next,

back and forth, back and forth, and
I stand, a child in the museum foyer,

hypnotized watching a hundred-pound ball
knock down pegs as it swings in easy

rotation—or rather, as its path stays fixed
and the earth spins beneath—

back and forth, back and forth, and
every few minutes, the sound—click—

of Foucault’s proof. Today I muse
Did the French devise tetherball too?


I recently took a (free) poetry on Coursera, Sharpened Visions, taught by Douglas Kearney from the MFA program at the California Institute of Arts. It was a 6-week class that covered the basics of writing poetry and offered several assignments for practice. (If you’re interested, the next round starts September 12, 2016.)

As a fairly experienced poet, I found the course a good refresher, and I even took away a few new terms (synecdoche, metonymy). The sample poems studied were fresher than one often finds in an introductory level poetry class, which offered a chance to meet some new voices. I’d also note the instructor has an amusing (to me) sense of humor and the production quality of the videos is high relative to other online courses I’ve taken.

Week 2 of the class focused on image (things you can literally touch/taste/see/hear/smell) and abstraction (things for which we have symbols, e.g., a heart for love). One of the fun assignments was to make up a title in the format “The [Concrete noun] of [Abstract noun],” then write that poem.

Thus, I present “The Cabbage of Illumination.”

Annabel’s Stone

Standard

As I mentioned in my last post, we had to euthanize our chicken Anne over Christmas. She was ill and we took her to the NCSU Vet Hospital. They were kind and compassionate during the whole process. We got to stay with Anne while they administered the lethal drugs, and they even told us they would just send the bill so we wouldn’t have to worry about it on our way out all red-eyed.

They scheduled an autopsy and told us that afterward either they could cremate the body for collective burial with other animals or we could have Anne’s cremains returned to us for a charge. Well, my mind flitted briefly over the idea of burying little Annabel next to Victoria’s Stone by the Japanese maple. (We still say hallo to Victoria when we walk by.) Though I felt a vague lack of closure with no body to bury, having cremains sent to us seemed too much fuss over a chicken.

The vet’s office called us the next day with preliminary autopsy results (at that point Marek’s, a viral disease, was suspected) and said it would take a few weeks to get the final report. A couple weeks later the bill came in a simple plain no. 11 envelope. A second larger envelope also arrived. It seemed an odd shape, but I assumed it would be the autopsy results.

When I opened the package I found a burgundy, sheer mesh, drawstring gift bag. It held a plaque similar to those that kindergartners make for their parents. You know the kind—soft clay or plaster of Paris with a handprint and a name and year etched in with a toothpick. Only this plaque had a chicken footprint in it along with a little red heart and the name ANNE in stamped letters. Enclosed was a card with handwritten notes from the vet and staff.

My goodness you could have knocked me over with a feather—and not a sturdy wing feather or tail feather. One of those downy little chick feathers would have felled me.

There it was: Annabel’s Stone.

Anne_footprint

Annabel’s Stone

Many thanks to Dr. Bethany Walters and the staff and students at NC State Vet Hospital. My husband and I were grateful for the memorial, but even more touched by the kind thoughts and compassion that went into making it for us.

A few weeks ago we got the results of the microscopic autopsy. The cause of Anne’s illness ended up not being Marek’s but rather oviductal adenocarcinoma (cancer), which had also spread to several other organs. Getting the final autopsy results reminded me I hadn’t finished the story. And now I have.

What do you think? Best vet ever?