Lay your tiny head on my soft down, little one,
So I may comfort you as I did your Daddy.
Before his birth, I strutted proudly around the barnyard
With my fluffy feathers bouncing in the wind.
Through Michigan's deep snows, rain, and hot muggy summers
I ate the corn Mrs. Berg scattered for my brothers and me.
I clucked. I chirped, and ran straight toward the pond,
Gingerly jumping into its cool water for a swim.
I caught minnows. I teased tadpoles,
And each day swam with my head held high.
Ascending the bank, I stretched my wings
And dried my fluffy feathers in the warm wind.
Then came that fateful day when Mrs. Berg caught my ankle
In her wire hook and tied my feet together.
I squawked. I jumped. I fell.
Squawked. Jumped, and fell again. To no avail.
She had me firmly in her grasp and knew exactly what to do.
Hazily, I recall how wet my fluffy feathers felt.
Soggy wet. Stuck together. And scattered haphazardly on the floor.
No warm sun to fluff and dry them in this dank basement.
For weeks they lay forgotten until one day she pulled them apart,
Gently fluffing each one into a tall pile to continue drying on that cold floor
While outside many snows fell.
Come Spring, she fluffed again,
And stuffed my elegant mane into a small, oblong bag,
Sewed it shut and gave it to your Daddy to cradle his tiny head.
I heard him cry. I heard him softly snore.
I heard him wheeze and cough. I became his toy.
Your Grandma kept me safe through the years;
Carried me in a tight steel drum through customs and across national borders.
I've been sunned under the tropical sun, moldy during monsoons,
Cold in Western winters, and dusty in Eastern dry seasons.
I've survived to come to you Granddaughter Dear,
With love, I will cradle your head in my soft down
And listen attentively as you wheeze, sneeze, cough, and cry
As I did for your Daddy.
Your goose-down pillow
Bending With the Bamboo, is the memoir of Winnie's life in Laos during the Vietnam War. Following Lao people from their mountain villages to the crowded Thai refugee camps, and on to resettlement in America, the Kaetzels ministered all the way.