The woman who has nodded to me from her porch
for weeks, still nodes now, bobs her head
leading me inside to see
21 grandchildren posed on a shelf,
sills full of colored glass.
Twice, I heard, she left her husband
and then returned
He stays outside with the dogs,
hollering them away from the barn.
Chickens flutter and squall,
leaving patches of brown feathers.
She says she’s been nodding 26 years.
The doctor calls it ‘the trembles’
but she knows something sharper
is pecking her brain.
Twice his fists have hit,
knocked her against the wall.
Twice she’s returned
to faces of grandchildren
perfectly still in the tilt
of their frames, glass
shining on every sill,
to hens squawking themselves into trees
whenever a dog comes near.
She sweeps up the puddles
of brown and white feathers
that fear send flying,
pours them into ticking
to cushion her relentless,