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  • Almost three weeks ago I went to the Cold Spring Country Store to pick up my chickens. I was so excited-- although there have been chickens on the farm since I've lived here, I've never raised chickens myself. Steve built me a coop and there's promise of an attached and hawk-free chicken run.

    I spread sawdust and straw in a large box and bought them a bright new water bottle and feeder. What fun!

    I thought it would be so mutually beneficial. They give me eggs and I give them a lovely place to live, food and water. They’d be independent and entertaining. You know, like cats! My Silver Laced Wyandottes will be the most beautiful chickens on earth!

    But of course, they hate me. I am their jailer. Now and then, I reach in with my scary hand and give them grits and water. They're getting big now, adolescents, and the box seems cramped and dark. They've started jumping up and thumping the top. So today we'll move them to a nice chicken cage-- open and airy and able to see the life of the plant room.

    Or, you know, out of the windowless interrogation room and into the jail cell.
  • This morning on the Knopf Doubleday “poem of the day” post which I get every National Poetry Month, was a poem by the Chinese Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu that captures this relationship– more closely tied to the food chain than the peaceable kingdom!

    I've been working on my own poem… thinking I'll add stanzas as the relationship develops. I hope it has a happy ending!

    The baby chicks
    cheep cheep cheep
    and huddle beneath
    their new mother lamp.

    They shudder in my hand
    as I stroke their downy backs.
    I coo and try to soothe.
    In response, they poop.

    The adolescent chicks
    jump and thump the lid
    of the box, protest captivity
    but don’t want to be picked up.

    Always they protest me,
    the hand that feeds them,
    that moves them to clean the box,
    with evil eye and defiant beak.
  • Wyandotte photo from here:

    Du Fu broadside from Knopf/Doubleday here:
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