Endangered Act of Nesting

An albatross nesting in Tierra del Fuego
was filmed unobtrusively, under attack
from a ravening pack of mice, whose objective
was eggs: to obtain which, they first devoured
the bird, stripping feathers and flesh to the bone.
Steadfast to the last, she would not leave the nest,
defending her eggs to the death.

In Venice, where pigeons have reached plague
proportions, the city fathers, hatching a stratagem,
pay a small army of nest-saboteurs to substitute
pebbles for eggs. With the campaign declared
a success, the bill for cleaning up pigeons’ mess
has halved since pebbles have supplanted eggs.

Here, where mangroves are thinning to sparse,
two-thirds of them lost to overpass, bitterns have to
make do with what’s left. Some of them still contrive
to nest. I catch the eye of a broody hen, as a deluge
plasters her leaf-roof flat. What passes between us
in eye-contact? Her staunch defiance of adverse
conditions; my helpless, shame-faced admiration –
I, who have yet to create a sustainable nest.

Jena Woodhouse


Recent residencies and retreats include Anam Cara (Ireland) and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig (Ireland); The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (Greece) and the British School at Knossos (Crete, Greece) – all in 2017. A current interest and focus is Bronze Age women and their lives, and an ongoing interest involves the possibility of an interface where archaeology meets poetry and contemporary life.

© 2018