The wind howls in the dark
and up the hill she scatters,
the light grey feathers touched
with chestnut, specked by blood
and blown, blown now,
everywhere and nowhere.
The bobcat killed her here,
after taking her from the yard
while I sat in the basement 20
yards away, watching a movie.
Unhearing, unseeing, complacent.
the stealthy power, the lethal grace,
the flawless hunter’s intelligence that
mocked the fence and the daylight,
the safety I’d presumed.
My small hen Ellie, whose cheeks erupted
in feathery whispers
beneath a crimson comb,
who laid pale green eggs,
who charmed me with her sweet diffidence.
The bright eyes dimming,
the soft whistle of her voice receding,
the effortless beauty dismantling.
The signs I followed minutes
later, tumbling up the rocky deer path
twisting through scrub oak breathless
and desperate, chasing
her disappearing life.
A hundred yards; sixty seconds.
Three hundred beats of her good hen heart;
ninety of my own in the slower cadence of
human panic, hammering through thickening air
to the pile of familiar feathers:
All they spoke, in silence;
the organic force of their disposition.
Meet me in heaven, I say to her.
Meet me in heaven with the years of
hens I have loved for their glorious forms,
their quiet industry, their uncomplicated affection.
Find them in the growing flock I can no longer feed,
feathers tight and immaculate on their perfect bird bodies.
When my time comes, meet me in heaven.