Wednesday Poem

The Chicken Coop

The house my parents had built
for them went back to the bank
and we moved three miles down
the road to a chicken coop converted
to a crude home, and that's where I
learned first to crawl, then
to walk. Later, we moved deep
into an orchard of apples and pears
to an abandoned farmhouse
with a pond and snapping turtles
and eels. No chickens but geese
chasing the dogs with their eel necks
curved and it's here that I learned
to run, to talk, that I became the first part
of what I am. My father never overcame
his sadness at the loss of the house
he’d first drawn on a napkin at the Automat
on Lower Broadway. The house was gone
but he still had that napkin, crumpled
in the dresser drawer where he kept
folded money and his glasses. “It doesn't matter
how many new floors, how many coats
of paint,” he would complain in his glass
of port, “you never get rid of the stink
of chickens.” And he'd point
an uncertain finger at me. “Don't you
forget that. It’s who you are.”

by Dave Margoshes
The Horse Knows the Way
Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 2009.