Chickens in Your Backyard

By Miriam Flock

They come, like the dishwasher, with the house.
“No trouble,” swears the seller, and—presto change-o—
for handfuls of Layena every morning,
the pair of hens trade one or two brown eggs.
The chick, if we approach with proper coos,
will let itself be stroked. This we learned
from our new bible, Chickens in Your Backyard.
Like neighbors of a different faith, we practice
tolerance, let them grub among the bulbs,
ignore the way their droppings singe the mulch.

Meanwhile, we are intent on our own nesting.
My husband paints the nursery; I quilt
a golden goose with pockets shaped like eggs.
We hardly register the added squawking
from the coop or look for more than tribute
when we rob the nesting boxes. Then
one dawn, I’m roused by what can only be
a cock-a-doodle-doo. And in the breaking light,
our chick-turned-rooster struts, ruffed as Raleigh,
shaking his noble scarlet comb. What waits

inside me to astonish like this male?
Such sudden majesty, sudden red.

Miriam Flock’s poetry has appeared in Poetry, Salmagundi, Chicago Review, and other publications. She was the 2019 winner of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for poems on the Jewish experience.

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