A light breeze carries echoes of our
screams across the Valley. Mum wanders
back into the barn, checking her headcount.
When I came out with the feed
this morning there were twelve. I replay
the scene as the wind scatters pillow-fight
remains in the grass. It was a sloppy getaway
of amateurs and first-timers;
children daring in the daylight under our feet.
The count comes up short, with two more
being put down. I ease
into the barn,
hearing the anxious gossip of hens, recalling
battles fought and lost. I gather
three eggs from an abandoned
them under a sitting hen. She raises her head
count, and I have not yet the heart
to tell her of the long tails, and the men
who gave their lives for her house;
sacrificing themselves from the tallest of bales.
As I walk home, I pick up every tinted feather
I can find – so clean I should sell them to the fly-tyers –
and stuff them into a jar.
In the morning, there will be crows.