Photo by Mark Zu on Unsplash


After the missile destroyed
her neighbor’s house
and blew the roof from the coop
where she kept her hens—
After the soldier screamed
“Get into the cellar
you old bitch”—
what could she do
but wait until dark to find
what chickens lived,
perched like hopeful flags
on a broken pipe,
and carry them in?
Blood-red combs tilted
jauntily over golden
eyes as they scratched
the dirt floor for bugs.
Those long weeks of fear
in the semi-dark
she stroked their glistening
feathers, cradled
each warm egg,
brown and faintly speckled.

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Poet and retired therapist, Dianne Stepp, lives in Portland, Oregon where she raises tomatoes and garlic in her urban garden and tends a flock of backyard hens.  Her third chapbook, “The Nest’s Dark Eye,” will be published in October, 2022.

Photo credit: Sandy Kennard


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