They even had a cabin Aunt Marie and Uncle Gene up in Kyburz, the mountains and that day when I was eight we drove into the first snow of my life. I told them it was beautiful so beautiful and Thank you for inviting me. I was too polite to mention my concern for the chicken, the crate tied to the top of the car & how it must be so cold out there, all those flakes & the wind blowing in its blinking eyes. That afternoon I flung myself in joy all over their white yard falling without feeling pain, leaving my body all over the place As the bright sky started going down, Aunt Marie the chicken cradled in her arm came to the stump I leaned on & said Back off, Katrinka, it's time. And the axe in her other hand moved fast and it happened, really, in one fell swoop, the head on the ground, one astonished eye blinking. Its little beak opened and closed, opened and closed without a sound. And the body ran round in circles, and blood flew everywhere, turning paler & paler as it sank into the snow. ~ Later, Uncle Gene came to me carrying a large pot. He said If you want to see some magic help me fill this with snow and I will turn it into rice for dinner. Well it happened. The windows were steamed from that black stove cooking and I was really hungry when they came with the food- the best fried chicken ever on this earth and a miracle: white rice piled in a deep blue bowl. That night I had two thoughts that frightened me. One: the dead do not die exactly when you kill them, and two: God might have made a mistake putting all the starving children so far away, and here where you are practically alone, all this snow. So much good food. (first appeared in Reed Magazine)
Kathleen Lynch writes poetry, fiction, and essays. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University.