The Thing With Feathers

I love that Emily Dickinson line: “Hope is the thing with feathers,” although I must confess mostly I love it because long ago our baby Remy got a feather lodged into his cheek and by the time the thing came out the other side ten days later, it was the most bizarre and disgusting incident we’d been through together in his first year. And I made notecards with every feathery phrase I could think of, including that one.

Anyone who notes what’s the positive side of a day or notes moments or cherishes beauty is almost by definition a hope junkie. I am.

This moment, for me, requires a little extra hope. I may be a hope junkie, but I’m terribly insecure with uncertainty. I like to know what’s going to happen next. I like to know every little thing’s gonna be all right. I don’t know how the story unfolds right now (or ever, but that’s another whole thing) and I have to go heavy on trust, respect, admiration and love, and hope—that thing with feathers. I would say this not-knowing involves practice.

You need hope to live in New England, because winter is so freaking long. Hope, it is your (carpenter) friends building a deck the day it snows. Hope is down parka and flip-flops on a brisk April day, because spring. Hope is the sight of those tiny flowers sprung up through mud and coated with frost and still purple and white and green. Green is a color of hope in New England, evidenced by that sudden realization the grass has appeared, seemingly or for really truly overnight.

Hope is the kindergartner’s commitment to her Thursday ice cream cone after the bus ride from school downtown no matter the weather. Yesterday, she talked me into a “large” cone, otherwise known as a small, which is a giant step up from the kiddie cone she usually gets. She managed it. She got full. In the middle of eating, she mused about this experience. “When I eat such a big cone, I feel like I’m nine or ten,” she explained. Note that the cone is wrapped in a paper sleeve and the word on the paper is “Joy.”

Also, when you get a little too much to handle, you share. Justification or the sweet spoils of parenthood, take your pick.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!