Motherhood

Teri Moore

In the spring, when I was a hen, I had two resplendent chicks. We bustled in the barnyard together, trilling to the geese and ponies all the green-gold day. When night came, they wrapped themselves in my feathers, poking skyward to peep at the blazing stars.


In the summer, when I became a bear, my brown puppy tumbled in the mud puddles, rolled with his friends in the flower garden, then lolled his curly head to sleep against me. Just out of my reach, the other, my green-eyed kitten, minced in a circle pressing a soft grass bed, and lay there among her comrades, drunk on the sun’s warmth, preening her magnificent fur. The sultry days stretched endless, while I scanned the horizon for wolves.


I was a bear for a very long time.


Then, in the winter, when I became a cow, he was a brown colt, all elbows and knees. He bucked and shivered in the brittle air, throwing the frosted dew like tinkling stars. Thunderheads rolled in, and he cantered off on his rickety stilts into the sheltering forest. The sky cracked open and rain pounded the pasture.
 

I called out to my lost kitten and searched the soft grass, only to find in her place a soaked and exhausted eaglet, her green eyes hard and fierce. I tucked her into the folds of my breast, her talons clinging piercingly, and fled into the forest.


The storm raged, deafening us. The bleak night stretched endless, while I searched for refuge. In a cave, I gathered sticks and wove them into a cage. When my eaglet was dry, I laid her inside of it, on a bed of moss, and closed the little stick latch to keep her safe. We both fell fast asleep. In the morning I woke to her keening as she threw herself against the bars until her wings were bloody. I fumbled the latch open and she dragged herself out seething and stumbled away, her cracked body struggling to fly.
 

After the storm, I wandered back home to the pasture. My colt returned a stallion, his sturdy hoofbeats shaking the earth. I leaned against his sinewed flank and gazed skyward.


In the distance, turned away from me, a half-wrecked eagle—her path low and ragged—flew screaming into the sun.

Teri Moore is a former police officer and veteran. Her story "The Safest Place in the City" was published in the Red Savina Review and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is also the author of The Secular Homeschooler. She lives with her husband and two children in Florida.

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