Clemency for Butterball, a Chicken

by Katharyn Privett-Duren

I’ve known this moment
The flutter of a wing, still viable
This life softened by hay and ready feed.

I’ve felt it, that flush
A recently-corrupted dream of green
The unencumbered rush of knowledge, facts, death.

Once, a tuft in my hand
Now, a burst upon the harvest wind
She has given her life to a plate, a holiday, a craving.

Her copper eyes wish for more.

I struggle to be human
Against her delicate and alien soul
Somehow, more real in her servitude now.

She fights me to fly
In spite of cage and hawk
Asking for mercy in lieu of my tedious care.

My arm becomes her cradle
Scarred from useless battles
To keep those babes that cracked beneath her.

Her eyes finally close.

I hold her feather
Plucked frantic before grave
And wonder at my longing for her counsel.

Her sounds are silenced
Now thumping in my head
As the weight of her life lifts and covers mine.

I trace her name
At last, for the last time
Against her patch of lemon balm and chive.

And she forgives me.

photo credit: A. Fei, Unsplash