4 May 2022

Her Choice

Marooned in a hemlock that creaks like a door to somewhere I can’t go,
the hen has settled herself in a late December storm.

Whatever cage she fled months before, she’s huddled now,
feet cold and clutching an icy branch carefully chosen
two dark days ago
when the winds and rain began.

I am worrying below, gazing up with vain thoughts of a ladder.
As if… she would ever let me take her down…

For she has watched us all —
the SPCA man with his rubbery noose
light in his fingers, poised to take her.

She remembers the clever traps, the coy attempt to lure her
with a caged rooster, who cried, “Run, hide, fly!”

But the humans didn’t know, they only heard themselves:
Winter is coming,
she needs others of her kind,
stop feeding her.
She will surely die.

And, oh, I, too, want to save her,
keep her
warm and dry, but
I don’t know what she wants.

One foot and then the other tucks up into her feathers,
then finds the branch again.
Preparing for another night
she bows her head
into the freezing wind,
her buoyant, russet coat now flat like rusted blood —
my brave and free, extraordinary friend.
I will simply wait.
And wait again.

Marooned or liberated,
she is living her precious life.
She is saving herself.

Mary Elizabeth Rosa
December 2020

Written for Fluffy (named for her plumage, not her character) and the kind folks who helped her transition to her next adventure. After almost 90 days in our yard, she now lives nearby, sharing a sprawling yard and excellent care with thirteen other hens who listen spellbound to her tales in their cozy barn every night.

Fluffy outdoors