A Small Thing

After a long trip away I did the laundry
and went outside to hang the clothes up to dry,
only to find that a pair of oak titmice
had made a nest next to the clothesline,
which is on the side part of the porch,
around the corner from the front door.

Anytime someone goes out that way
Papa or Mama Titmouse stands bravely
on the back of a patio chair
ready to defend the nest
against all comers.
I could not find it in me to hang the clothes.

This morning I came out to meditate
in my usual place on the porch
and Papa Bird flew around
in tight complicated circles
on the ground at my feet
indicating I suppose
that I was too close for comfort
and should slowly back away.

So I can’t use the clothesline
or sit in my usual chair
or even go out the front door
until the baby titmice
have fledged.

When you think about the vastness
of what needs to be done
about climate change
and mass extinction of species
and how badly human beings
treat other human beings
it seems perhaps ridiculous
that I have organized
my whole domestic routine
around a family of little birds.

And yet my heart will not permit me
to do any differently.

It is a small thing
but it is something
I can do.