Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Cardinal

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The cardinal has it hard. By day,
gardeners poke; squirrels shake
the bush. At night,
raccoons menace her nest.

Twigs, leaves: everything
borrowed, temporary.

I, too, stay home with my kids,
but she sits still for hours,
sometimes swiveling
her head: Predators!

Occasionally her bright red mate swoops in,
dropping a worm or a twig.
To my kids I say, "She must be bored.
Everyone she can talk to sits under her butt."

"Maybe she talks with her butt,"
my five-year-old offers, hysterical,
and we laugh, enjoying our day.

I wonder how the cardinal does it,
warming her not-quite companions
while the father flies around, looking busy
doing God-knows-what --

Anything to get away from that dreadfully tedious nest.

Leah Odze Epstein is a mother of three (two girls and a boy). She lives in Larchmont, New York, where she is working on her first middle-grade novel. An excerpt from her novel in progress, “Glen Echo,” was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters competition.

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