Claire Collison

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 peck,

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.