Leaves twirl like ballerinas from tall branches,
land on brown ferns, black seed heads of echinacea,
still-green leaves of fall anemone.
I watch my four hens, a soft conversation of clucks, among them.
In the gardens, they move like a small army,
dark legs scratch black earth, eyes dart for fat-bodied grubs
and squirrels’ buried treasures.
Marin, the fifth hen, doesn’t arrive with the original four
in a summer of hope
for a new chicken farmer.
My desire for blue eggs now her curse.
She stands on yellow legs, a lost soul
on the other side of the yard,
imaginary boundaries hold her a loneliness captive.
Marin wears alienation, the pecking like a heavy cloak,
her neck tired of drooping.
In morning sun, last to come out the hen house door,
no clucks or chirps
as a silent resolution covers the yard and
my heart breaks for her once again.
photo credit: Kimi Hardesty