Ash, Broad-Breasted White Turkey Hen, Age 8
Notice how she carves light out of shadow,
how feathers have parted in the way of old boas
and her eye fixes you sideways. Almost none
of her kind survive this long, her wrinkled neck
singular and lonely. Beak shortened, incomplete—
a scar of her time at the factory years before,
a gate meant never to open. Life does this,
doesn’t it? Sometimes moves right out the door
under somebody’s arm, or finds the one hole
in the wire.
………….…… Wings white, disheveled, parts of her
falling away, who’s to say old age isn’t
incandescent power? Just look at her light.
Imagine all of them living, living—like the two
you thought of setting free from the cage
by the field in October. How they watched you
standing with an ax you only brought
to fell bamboo—beautiful, thick nuisance—
when you stumbled on them, well fed and waiting
for November and their farmer.
the springed steel door—you could see
how it opened. You knew they’d never last,
wandering free and huge, their big fan tails
dragged like closed umbrellas behind them.
Ridiculous, illegal to do it—property, some
stupid law and your bleeding heart the butt
of Thanksgiving jokes all over the valley.
Remember: They looked at you, unafraid
and young. Like this old one looking out
from the photo, this Ash, from the safe
darkness of her barn where someone thought
to let her live, and then let her live.
by Amy Miller
from Rattle Magazine
September 17, 2019