A Killing

The Yolks go in a little Bowl
The Yolks go in a little Bowl

Here: The Poetry Podcast: Philip Levine reads Ellen Bass. (by The New Yorker on Soundcloud)

Poetry Podcast, The New Yorker: Philip Levine

I remember the chicken slaughter too.  I was fascinated by the little bowl of yolks of removed, unformed, unshelled eggs. The golden treasure. Headless chickens running around is a tired trope, the reality a different thing altogether. At least those chickens had a life commensurate with one which -as a human- one would consider happy. (Mmm, maybe not…) I have warm fuzzy-wuzzy memories of collecting eggs, true, but I also remember the feathers and the smell, the “mean” rooster, the empty coop after the constrictor got in. Memories of slaughter day, of course. Tombola, the rooster I won at the school fair for five cents, did not escape it either.

Baba luislangetjie (CC-BY-SA 2.0; Hannes Steyn)

Every time I think about the farm, a picture of a small acacia-flower-like-fluff-ball of a chick forces itself into my mind’s eye. That’s the chick whose little head I accidentally squished in the heavy hinge of the closing farm store door; there between the heavy bags of cornmeal it blinked at me with sad-bloodied eyes as I sank to the red clay floor in dismay. Cheep=cheep, it said, blinked away its ruby tears, and started pecking at something unseen.

Ruby Eyes of Regret
Those Ruby Eyes of Regret

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