Another dead chicken

by Ed Higgins

in the chicken house

this morning. The second

one this week. I carry the stiff hen

out to the back pasture for the coyotes,

since fall is coming on. In spring 

and summer I'm happier treating turkey vultures. 

Several of my hens are old--and chickens of course

are not ordained for long lives. Commercial hens

lay themselves out in one to three years. 

After their laying slows with these battery chickens 

it's off to the slaughter house and chicken soup— 

or other worn-out laying hen products.

My uncaged hens can last 6 or 7 years, 

depending on the breed. Rarely, a barnyard chicken 

can reach 12-15 years. Because I am old myself, 

far beyond any chicken years, I am not indifferent 

to how my hens slip into eternity. So I do not early-cull 

my layers when they slow down, or stop laying altogether. 

This hen I am carrying to the back field has her dignity 

still intact, if no longer her well-being.