Hen House

We nursed the runt to life
squeezing drops of medicine into her gullet,
dabbing peroxide under a bloody wing.

She soothed herself by roosting,
clutching eggs under her breast,
eggs that were not hers.

Again, feathers spread across the yard
white like a dusting of snow.

I say farmers can’t be sentimental.
But we are not farmers, really.
We are a family raising pet chickens,
every death a loss.

We’ve had a lot of loss this year.
I fold mine neatly,
ironing the edges with fingertips,
and hide them in the drawer filled
with notes and postcard memories
of other losses.

What does an 8-year-old do?
You plant it like a flag
in the front yard our home.
It is threadbare and unsure
which direction the wind is blowing.
You cry yourself to sleep
wiping tears and mucus with your sleeve.

I breathe in your grief
and cover my mouth with my hand
until you learn how to fold your notes
and postcard memories
to neatly tuck away.

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