A Story about Chickens

Here on the table are paper covered onions,
ginger roots fat as babies' fists,
haloes of scent shine from these lemons
and here are the broken bones and cut wings
of the primitive chicken.
We bring down wine that contains sunlight
of fields far south from New England,
and drinking, I think about chickens.
Think of feathers, white as coconut,
annoyed, amber plectrum, beaks.
Think of chickens home in the jungle,
flying among the green planes of the banana tree
in erratic white fireworks,
or high over sherry colored rivers,
in the jungle canopy, like big, shaggy blossoms
in the sunlight, above orchids and bromeliads,
singing, their voices damped in the space below.
But also I think of the slim felt paws
of the black and humid cat among the lianas
snarling curses of famine and meat.
I remember chickens flocking over our meadows
of New England during the hunter's moon,
moving like a thick white coverlet
past the black oranges and black red leaves,
fleeing the fall barbecues and icy chicken coops
for the Florida palm tress,
for the Mardi gras of birds, celebrating
that great annual escape to their jungle home.
I taste glowing wine, pastel mints, and I wonder
if, not far from our cement and tar forests,
our neon nightflowers and iron vines,
not far from our sky thorns of silver airplanes,
solitary, broods our own magnificent black cat
of the galaxies, who exactly evens up the scores,
gazing down at us in ancestral hunger,
with the jungle stars that are his eyes.

© 1999, 2000 Grace Solomonoff