Laying the thief the pockets the unfound the looking the seen and unseen the bent the fluent the misplaced the measured the wreathed the mirrored the buried and planted the vining the drying the hung in the shed the tethered the strung the thinning and keening the stripped bare of feathers the breast to the shell the fiercely guarded the hissing on the nest the stolen forgotten
It is still night the cockerel punctures warm dark with threat- light. calls day down in a steady curse until the world thickens his garbled throat. strangle call. remembered or imagined days of harm. dawn smell of dusty wool not hatched but born. not floored but thatched with alarm. shed down. chips of pine and warning ash. crowing in the dark to stitch hexed light to morning.
From the Author: Broody hens tear out their breast feathers in order to press their eggs directly to their skin for warmth. They eschew food and water and can make themselves ill, can even die of thirst while guarding the nest. Roosters both protect and brutalize the hens in their flock, and crow at any time of the day or night. To be near chickens is to witness patterns of ancient violence, their instincts honed by continual mortal danger and the drive to reproduce before they die.
Melissa Ginsburg’s latest poetry collection, Doll Apollo, will be published in 2022 by LSU Press. She is the author of the novels The House Uptown and Sunset City, the poetry collection Dear Weather Ghost, and the poetry chapbooks Arbor, Double Blind, and the forthcoming Apollo. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Guernica, Kenyon Review, Fence, Southwest Review, and other magazines. Originally from Houston, Melissa teaches at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where she lives with two dogs, eleven chickens, and the writer Chris Offutt.