Thirteen ways to count your chickens

I
Five hens scurry around the yard,
scratching and preening,
dust baths and dust ups


II
I gather the eggs
one…two…three…four.
Starkly white, mottled brown,
or freckled like a young child’s nose.
The hen watches me steal her labour


III
I herd my children under my arm,
A mother hen,
even to these two adult men


IV
When the rooster died,
one of the hens began to crow.
Will I crow if my husband dies?


V
My first roast hen was a disaster;
too many spices, not enough glistening crispy skin.
You can take the Indian out of the girl,
but the tandoori chicken remains


VI
My insecurities have come home
to roost like proverbial hens.
They sit puffed and accusatorial on the fence


VII
The only good thing about the cold
is huddling under the quilt.
I roll myself in the downy feathers,
imagine myself a hen
fussing in her nest


VIII
Hens can fly, you know.
Short distances,
skirts hiked up, wings flapping.
They’re much less graceful than a bumble bee


IX
Male birds denote human genitalia,
but hens are not vaginas


X
My sister taught me to whistle
when I was ten.
You know what they say,
About whistling women and crowing hens


XI
Once, my mother and I
watched my aunt,
mad as a wet hen,
chase my uncle,
a sickle held high in her hand


XII
I bought chocolates for the children
but left them in the downstairs pantry.
This is like leaving a fox in charge of the hen house.
I’m not a hen


XIII
“What’s a Hindu?” he asked,
but I heard “hen do”.
“Lay eggs,” I said.
We were both confused.


This poem was written for the YeahWrite #472 Fiction|Poetry grid. Click the badge to read other entries.

4 Comments on “Thirteen ways to count your chickens”

  1. Love the metaphors you draw with hens: protector, woman, mother, provider. The metaphor in the second to last stanza could use more clarification. Perhaps the narrator finds chocolates in the pantry instead of buying them as a gift?

    • Thanks, Nate! Ooo that’s a good suggestion. I was flagging by those last few stanzas (probably shouldn’t have tried to write this in an hour 🤷🏾‍♀️), and that one in particular sat oddly for me. This was a fun format though — I really like the micro poems with a connective idea.

  2. I am so jealous that you could write this so quickly! There are so many interesting turns of phrase, like the hens hitching up their skirts, and you gathering your sons under your wings. Despite all the differences, the verses seemed a cohesive whole. Am I right in thinking you are the fox?

    • Thank you, Margaret! I am indeed the fox 🦊. Especially when it comes to chocolate. I think this form lends itself well to my scattered thinking at the moment. I can work to short sharp bursts with an overarching theme/idea. It’s the longer formats that I’m struggling with. Taming my thoughts long enough to pursue one of them for an essay or a story feels very elusive right now.

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