Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Eighty

March 19, 2008
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chicken head

What struck me at first was their panic.

Some were pulled by the wind from moving
to the ends of the stacked cages,
some had their heads blown through the bars --

and could not get them in again.
Some hung there like that -- dead --
their own feathers blowing, clotting

in their faces. Then
I saw the one that made me slow some --
I lingered there beside her for five miles.

She had pushed her head through the space
between the bars -- to get a better view.
She had the look of a dog in the back

of a pickup, that eager look of a dog
who knows she's being taken along.
She craned her neck.

She looked around, watched me, then
strained to see over the car -- strained
to see what happened beyond.

That is the chicken I want to be.

© Jane Mead

"Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Eighty" is from The Lord and the General Din of the World by Jane Mead, published by Sarabande Books, Inc. ©1996 by Jane Mead. Reprinted with permission by Sarabande Books. Jane Mead has taught poetry at several schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and was for many years poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University. 

 © 2008 Edible San Francisco 

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