Birth Amid the Noise

This essay was published in the literary journal Exhale (2021)

The doe staggers toward the barking dog — and toward the fence that separates her forest from the dog’s yard. Under that blanket of fierce sound, the doe splays her legs at odd angles and delivers a fawn. The dog, hysterical now, barks louder than before. The doe lies down, rests a bit, and rises again to deliver a second fawn. 

The doe seems to know that there — against the fence, amid the noise, in distant view of my friend’s kitchen — she can safely allow her babies to be born. She seems to know that the stillness of her forest home, her natural community, exposes her to risk – and that she is safer on the borderlands of suburbia, where a barking dog attracts human eyes but scares away her predators.  

Photo by Rani Sahu on

I think of what I’ve pushed into the world when all around me was noise. Typically, I’m the rabbit who will tremble, freeze and silence her voice until the threat exhausts itself. Eventually I’ll move again, but my words have turned back up the birth canal to await a better time (or maybe never) to emerge. 

Sometimes, though, noise creates a cocoon or even a spark for me to find and release what’s inside. When I’m alone, there’s the nurturing quilt of cafe sounds, playlists or birdsongs. In company, I love the wild flinging about of ideas when a group ignites itself with the joy of being together and explores insights and connections impossible to reach alone. 

I love best what happens with one other person, maybe over pancakes or a sub, where we roll each other’s ideas into a bigger and bigger snowball, interrupting each other loudly in service of the larger point. We enrich each other’s ideas with noisy enthusiasm until we are able to stack them, ornament them, and then step back, exhausted, to see what we’ve built. That wall of sound — baffling and even unwelcoming to anyone else — fosters our creativity and the birth of something new.

A lovely sturdy flower on the Island of Iona, Scotland, June 2018

I sometimes struggle to find my voice. I’ll deny my ideas and refuse to give them outlet when the noise strangles rather than invites. I allow my throat to tighten and choke on lost words. An unexpected hostile bark will teach me not to go that way again. 

May I be like the doe and walk toward the noise of others’ ideas. May I share the doe’s confidence as to what is developing within me and share her commitment to let it out. And may I know that my voice matters and that I can change the noise by adding my sounds to it.

Sunrise in Noank, Connecticut, July 2020

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War and Pieces, by Dutch artist Bouke de Vries, displayed at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, Washington DC

15 thoughts on “Birth Amid the Noise

  1. Hazel Roberta Moon October 14, 2021 — 6:01 pm

    When I saw the headline I was silently yelling, “Which one of the boys is having a baby!” My heart is still racing and I am sitting here laughing at myself. Much love to you, K, and the boys (and future grandchildren). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hazel — I laughed out loud when I read your comment. The only babies born in our world are those ubiquitous deer! All is well here. Love to you and Gracie.


    2. I got excited for a minute there too!


  2. Ryan, Anne M - (anneryan) October 14, 2021 — 8:43 pm

    Love this story of the doe and your reflections. Let’s all embrace some good noise!

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    1. Dear Anne — Thank you so much for your encouragement! Yes, let’s embrace good noise and our own thoughts scattered among them. (I wish I’d been braver when I was a young woman…)


  3. I think many of us face the same struggles as you described.


    1. Dear Laurie — Thank you for saying that. Here we are as writers — and still bumping into that discouraging noise. Maybe as writers we are helping to create space for other voices too?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathleen Kline Moore October 14, 2021 — 10:22 pm

    Absolutely beautiful reflection that will resonate within me for a while, with joy. Many thanks! With gratitude, Kathleen


    1. Dear Kathleen — How lovely to hear from you! I’m grateful for your note. I wonder what we, as mature women, can do to identify reticence in our “daughters” and help them to step into the noise and add their voices to it. I’ll reflect on that too.


  5. My brain is all abuzz from reading your post.

    I am reminded of a conversation I just had this morning with Poet Younger Child about the the power of the “short, short, long” in music, which can be powerfully employed in poetry as well. Symmetry, consistency and stability is all good and well, until it isn’t. When I think of the deer and why she chose her place to birth, I can only surmise that it represented a safer place; something to emulate here – following our instincts even when it takes us to places unexpected

    On some days, words fail. I wonder what will happen when we follow our instincts somewhere else.

    P/S congratulations on the publication of this essay!


    1. Thank you, Ju-Lyn, for sharing that story. The unexpected (“short, short, long”) prompts both aesthetic pleasure and — as you note — undreamed possibility because our instincts take charge? (And thanks for your congratulations too!)

      Liked by 1 person

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