"Love Birds">

CHICKEN IN THE SNOW



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.




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