Sacrifice and Silence

He was in London earning their keep,

making what he could, stashing it away

for the things they needed

while she waited, frustrated

wishing she were there, or better yet,

that he’d come home

Together was so much better

even if it did mean less

Together was more to her

It was everything

She pondered so long in the silence

that the sun slipped unnoticed

behind the hill

that space where she could sit

with enough view to be still

think and sink deep

away from the loneliness

the solitude of dreaming

and wishing his return

Heart spilled so willing into those hills

she never saw the creature’s approach

she, quiet as a stone, except for breathing

until something moved in the dusk

and walked across her feet

heavy against her toes, light and quick on his;

Two black bands, flag of his species

marked the intense white face

and thick fur, the char-grey body

brushed past in an instant

unaware of the human he trod on

knowing only himself

bull badger

Responsibility on his mind

tread out and forage for food;

bring it back to the sett

be rejoined with mate and cubs

but the diggings are better

on the other side of the hill

a night’s walk away

Leaving them behind, he went hunting

All they need is food, she thought

unlike us

In the dim evening light, her only company 

an infant nursing at her breast

She stood and stretched

pushed blood and breath into her limbs

and walked down the hill

back to their empty house

wishing it took less to be human

glad at least of her one sweet cub

and of toes, trampled by a badger

Badger Image courtesy of:

Posted for One Shot Wednesday

Posted to Prompt 172: Long For



Filed under Non-Fiction, Poetry, Uncategorized

60 responses to “Sacrifice and Silence

  1. he tries to make end meet,
    she waits, but not sure what’s happening…

    the image tells a lot.
    stunning poem!
    love the relaxing pace you have in the work.

  2. It’s tough to be separated…and the necessities of life so often conflict with the wants. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we didn’t have to worry about money? I’m glad she was okay. I don’t know much about badgers, but they can be dangerous, can’t they?

    • Badgers are not fond of close contact with humans, that’s for sure. But they won’t attack unless cornered because they’re incredibly shy, nocturnal creatures, I believe in the same family as skunks. She probably wasn’t in any real danger unless she moved at the wrong time, in the wrong way.
      Regardless, he never realised she was there – he just walked – literally walked on her toes – totally oblivious of her presence. It was one of those moments that one can’t help but wonder if, in all the history of earth, it ever happened before – and it may never happen again. Amazing.

  3. KB

    What a difficult position to be in. It would break my heart to be away from my man like that.

  4. this is a very tough space…a couple years back i took a job out of town and went anticipating our house sale…after 8 months i quit b/c it never sold and it was just too much…i dont regret that decision….like hte little textures…and the comparison to your little furry friend…nice one shot

    • Thanks, Brian. Enjoyed your comment; Many couples today are going through this, whether looking for jobs or in the service. In my Dad’s childhood, men left home and rode the trains looking for work – depression was hard on everyone

  5. separation is always difficult to handle.. but for life to go on these days, they’re having to do it I think!

    My One Shot

  6. “We don’t need no stinking badgers!” (LOL!)

    What a charming tale – so much longing, then brought back to reality in such an unexpected manner. Nice One Shot!

    • Hi Eric, you must be an Exmoor farmer. (LOL) Thanks so much for the humor and your kind comments. I’ve seen your 2-horse logo before yet always when I was enroute to another blog, so missed visiting your site. I’m doubly glad you visited mine today, for now I’ll chase those two beautiful horses and read your work.

  7. This is delightful – in a somber kind of way. The combination of the couple separated and the badger foraging for food — humans and animals seeking much the same thing — emphasizes the poignancy. Excellent.

    • Glynn, thanks so much for your kind comments. The ‘somber’ truths of existence do turn into ‘delight’ when we realise we share them with our fellow creatures, and so often they handle them with much more dignity than we. 🙂

  8. marion and jim Coyne

    You move us from the specific to the universal experience so eloquently. Thanks Cindy.

  9. some poems come out and bite you when you are least expecting. beautifully played out, and clear in its line… i like this so much, and am , whisper, slightly jealous. thank you for writing this.
    She pondered so long in the silence
    that the sun slipped unnoticed
    behind the hill
    from then on the exposition of feelings is concise and undramatic….love it
    gushing over 🙂

    • Thank you so much. I’m loving the unexpected bite. That’s worth ten times ten of something valuable. You make me want to go back and write more. Thanks.

      • I love your responses – a teacher’s trained eye that reads deeper into the lines and sees the big picture. Your words, “universal experience” were the words I sought and could not grasp when seeking a title. Thank you, once again for your encouragement and great feedback. Love it.

  10. The things we do to ‘be happy’… it’s almost ironic really! Aah… these paradoxes!
    Beautifully written, Cindy..
    And I really liked the way you ended the poem… being grateful for what she has, inspite of all the loneliness! We often tend to miss what’s not there.. and fail to appreciate what’s there… if only we did a bit of the latter too, we would be much happier individuals

    A very thought provoking poem, Cindy..
    Thank you for sharing it here…
    Much love to you!!

    • Ah Kavita, I should have known you’d “get it” – you would find the secret that shouts from the poem’s lines and that many readers missed. Paradox – great word. I also find some humor in this too, that silly old badger, so concerned about his business, he didn’t even realize he stepped on a human foot. How many of us walk through life, our problems on our shoulders, our noses to the ground, and we don’t see a damned thing around us? I wonder whose feet we tread on and how many miracles we miss. Thanks for being such a good reader. I always look forward to your comments.

  11. i loved this – the pain of being separated – the badger – the analogy – well written with lots of space to feel the emotions

    • Thanks, Claudia. I’m glad you focused on the space. The first draft, pre-edit version raced along, making loops between her heart, that hill, the house, baby and London. It wasn’t until I wondered where the badger was going, that I realised he could show what the poem was all about, and I got the word machete out and went to work. Thanks for confirming I didn’t chop too much!

  12. thanks for your comment on “wolves”
    i really appreciate your feedback – and – yeah – i changed it – it DOES sound better
    i started with poetry writing only 3 months ago and english is not my native tongue – so i’m learning – and i’m thankful for real, helpful comments and suggestions – even for criticizing because i want to grow in writing poetry – so thanks a lot – and you’re always welcome to comment – and please – DO say what you think – even if it’s not nice – honestly

    • Claudia – THREE MONTHS??!!! Good heavens, if you write like “wolves” after three months, then by three years you’ll be poet laureate. You have a gift for diving into the moment, whether it was real or imagined, it is vivid in your mind and you focus on the sight, sounds, emotional and tactile feelings and actions. My favorite professor always repeated, if you use the right nouns and the right verbs, you don’t have to use adjectives or adverbs. I never could drop all my adverbs and certainly not adjectives, but by paying really close attention to the details in my mind, and seeking the word that describes what I see, I can often produce something quite satisfying and compelling. You did that in wolves. So glad to hear you welcome critique. This is an essential part of becoming a good writer – receiving and giving thoughtful, and honest feedback, coated with layers of positive encouragement. Many blog-writers are afraid to hurt people’s feelings so they hesitate to point out things. I try to make suggestions when I see something that I think could be made better, and I leave it with the writer. They may not agree – writing is so subjective. Like you, I love mindful critique and I welcome yours any time you are willing to give it. This to me is far more valuable than awards, tokens and praises. But praises are good. I welcome praises too. 🙂

    • Started 5 months ago and my native tongue also not English Claudia. Ditto girlfriend xx

      • People whose native tongue isn’t English have a distinct advantage, in that they do things with the language that a native speaker wouldn’t think of – it probably was taught out of them. Some of the best poetry I have read was written in English by non-native writers – paying more attention to what they say and how they say it is a great way to write poetry!! You two gals are very gifted indeed. Keep the words coming!!

  13. Enjoyed how you weave the circumstances of couples and nature through your descriptions. Your lines have an intensity that I enjoyed.

  14. You really portrayed the loneliness well. I have tagged you and sent you an award. If you want to play and accept, see my post Three Thing Tag + Band-Wagon Tag + Award (I am not sending links because it just occurred to me that I can get marked as spam)

    • Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comments and thoughtul award. As for the tag stuff, I’ll pass. If I allow myself to get into those, fun as they are, they become distractions that divert me from my novel and poetry-writing, which is my reason for being here in the first place. I hope you had a chance to read my comment on your blog yesterday. I stll feel the same – your story touched me so much.

  15. moondustwriter

    What a beautiful reflection. Wonder if the badger was thinking the same of humans.
    It seems men are always marching off to something and women are having to go somewhere to seek solace. The hills are a faithful friend.

    Thanks for sharing with One Shot

    Moon hugs

  16. there was so much of the poem that was breathtaking and there was so much of the tale that i could relate to…i have read the comments and wish i could flow like they have but believe me..this was excellent..cheers pete

  17. Wow! What an encounter…and the symbolism of the badger is powerful combined with the slow, soft, lovely development of your piece!

    I am honoured to be connected with you through poetry!

    • Thanks Annie. Your words have started my day with a warm feeling – we are so lucky to have this writer’s forum. I enjoy our connection too. Your wonderful writing and thoughts feed me with that magic that gets the creative juices flowing. It’s a win-win cycle.

  18. Terry

    Hi Mum,
    I have just read the poem, which is lovely

  19. Cindy, that was such a strong poem. I love the contrast, how you used the badger to reflect her experience. Good, good writing. Victoria

  20. Barbara

    Your poem took me back to when my children were small and my husband had two part-time jobs on top of his regular job. It was important to both of us to have me stay at home with the kids, but it was often lonely without him. So many mouths to feed, he was like the badger in your poem. Busy providing the food for his family. Busy trying to balance wants and needs. Thanks for sharing your poignant, thoughtful poem.

  21. Chloe

    Wow – this poem was a delight to read. I loved the way you compared the badger’s existence to hers and her child being a cub. It reminded me of my neighbour – he is from Africa and has moved to the UK to get a better life for him and his family…and yet his family legally have to stay thousands of miles away. They’ve been seperated for years and yet, such is his belief that EVENTUALLY life will be better for them all, that they go through the associated pain. Love the emotions conveyed in your poetry xx

  22. This is very heartfelt, albeit too real for many of us.

    You penned it beautifully.

  23. Your poem tells a whole lot of stories…:) I could relate to the waiting part where hubby is away just to keep a decent roof for his family…
    But there is that sad part…another creature trying to fend for her cubs, survival of the fittest! And she the victim…what an interplay of events…:) You have made a very distinct observation of the things that happen around you!

  24. A very thought provoking poem this!! and indeed many a family today go thro this experience… and all this because our perceived needs have increased exponentially …far beyond our basic needs …. and the pressure of earning more takes one away from home.. and as just now i am listening to a song… ” kuchh paa kar khona hai kuchh kho kar paana hai…” which translates as … To get some we have to lose some ..that’s what life truly means.. Thank you for bringing it out so beautifully… i had my eyes wet.. thanks…

    • Thank you Ramesh for spending time with my poem and your lovely addition of song. The poem was based on my daughter’s real experience – but that was several years ago. Now she has three children and another on the way, and Jim works locally, so if she has any longings, they are probably only for a few minutes of peace and quiet. 🙂

  25. Thanks for sharing this old gem with one single impression.

    • Hi Jingle. I wrote a new one for you, but this just seemed to fit the prompt better, so I slipped it in and saved the new one for another time. I hope readers don’t mind seeing it a second time.

  26. Nicely knitted together with lots of space to feel the emotions! Love your work 🙂

  27. Fabulous imagery!
    I think I’d have jumped a mile to have my toes stepped on by something, even something as harmless as a badger…. I bet they can really bite if they want to!
    This is so touching on many levels because I know these feelings so well myself.
    Beautiful writing!

    • Thank you, daydreamer. My daughter took me to the hillside where she sits and meditates and I took this photo (of her). While we were there, she told me about the badger stepping on her toes. She was always one of those people who nature seems to embrace, and animals, whether wild or tame, feel comfortable with her. This isn’t the only remarkable encounter she’s had, but the setting, her story, and the idea that we are no different from our animal friends who also have to sacrifice, inspired this poem. Yes, badgers can be quite nasty when threatened, as they are nocturnal creatures and very, very shy. They’re big too! When she was little, she used to walk with her Dad; whenever they found a badger set or fox den, they would go back and observe it. She never told anyone where they were, keeping the animals’ secret from human predators. Thank you for your comments – glad you enjoyed this.

  28. Fighting it out together ,sometimes could have a dual connotation. isn’t it? These are tough decisions to make and live with.Your poem captures this conflict so beautifully.I loved the way you have managed to carry the sentiments right till the end.Very well written.

    • Thank you, Gyanban, for your lovely comments – they make me want to go back and read it again. For me, everything in life has dual or multiple connotations, and so many things seem to run on parallel lines for a time. The patterns are fascinating. Maybe they aren’t even patterns but random streams of synchronicity… who knows?

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