The dead hen needed burying
before the kids saw her bent neck
and red comb in the muck.
The vixen must have dropped her,
disturbed by one of us, though brazen
enough to cull my birds in broad day.
Stiff now, the hen had been dead
for an hour or more. A waste.
Somewhere on the bluff the vixen
eyed me: sheep danced in dumb panic
and goats’ hair perked like quills.
Half our flock fed the kits hidden
uphill. I’d become a deranged shepherd
herding rocks: the hens froze
as the fox picked and ran.
Once I crashed after the brassy tail
(a pregnant Elmer Fudd),
’til she dropped one. The hen scooted
off, a cloud of weird feathers,
while the others screamed in place.
Once I’d wanted a bungalow, green prairie
scattered with chickens, me dying wool
while sun-spotted kids collected eggs
in baskets, and I’d write about leeks,
scarlet carrots like a lesser Robert Frost.
I sweated over the hole–
belly kicking against the clay–
and pushed the unwieldy feet inside.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.
See all items about Elise Gregory