Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Letter 7

Have you ever seen a chicken lay an egg? It can be violent. They get fussy. They scratch and kick up the dirt around them. With each push, they strain. They might moan or scream. Suddenly, from somewhere inside it, there bulges a veiny, red-fleshy ring. They push and push until something foreign to a pine palette starts peeking. That open sore of theirs stretches and thins as if to grope and slow the thing’s momentum, to deliver it safely. The egg pours hot onto whatever cushion lies below where it will harden, and to think, this is a violence that happens daily or almost, and when a chicken might be sitting or eating grain. And the egg? I’ve seen so many of the chickens ignore it. The effort to bring it forward exhausts them and once it’s here, some don’t even turn around to address it. What way is that to behave? I’ve seen other chickens snatch and eat it. I’ve seen chickens eat their own. That hasn’t always been my practice. When I used to nurture them, they would hatch, become beings of their own and out of control. They’d travel, up the dirt road from the safety of our farm’s enclosure to the border and into traffic, always to be run over. In the aftermath, I’d see them. Plastered to the asphalt. What to do, then, seeing how the larger world interacts with them but to take them home and ingest them, no different than store-bought chicken patties. I take hints from the chickens I see now, Mr. Hen. I go about my day in front of the TV, buying groceries, getting caught in the rain with friends, playing video games, and have them. When I’m ready, I eat them. I send them back in as close as I can to how I lay them.  

return to top