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.


Poems by Kathleen Lynch:

Chicken in the Snow
Motel Baby
Love: The Basics
How to Build an Owl
Only Trees
The Spirit of Things
Everyone in Your Dreams Is You

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets