Backyard Chickens by Claire Collison
All it takes is two balls of fluff
carried home on a whim.
So small I could cup in my hands
the bundle of yellow feathers and hide them under my fingers:
The birth of our backyard flock.
An old shed, a doghouse,
even a children’s plastic playhouse,
with green shutters, blue roof, and pink door,
is all we needed for a coop.
We lined the floor with straw,
and added a nesting box or two,
although the hens often picked their own spots to lay
for an everyday Easter egg hunt.
Making sure to wake promptly, we’d pull wide their door,
let the cacophony of hums and trills,
and impatient clucks
usher in the day.
Standing aside, we’d watch them parade past:
the careful set of their feet, the bob of their head,
then the hurry to have their breakfast of scratch and grain and bugs.
A rhythm of the scritch, scratch,
the contented coos.
It’s impossible to forget their colorful characters:
our motley crew of Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Silkie Bantoms,
Black Orpingtons, and Golden Spangled Hamburgs,
easily spotted strutting about our yard.
A simple call, “Here girls!”
and they’d all come running, eager for a treat of bread or grapes or popcorn,
like stray dogs begging for scraps.
Though we had to let them go, adopted by our neighbors down the street,
we’ll always readily recall
the hens with attitude,
the hens who had graceful feathered feet,
and the hens with the beautiful speckled breasts and capes,
whose feathers we’d collect and keep,
like sea glass scattered on a beach.