Michael Portillo and the Little Red Hen by Deborah Alma

in Authors & Books/Poetry

.

I once watched Michael Portillo on the TV

in an experiment in a decompression chamber,

and it somehow stuck with me-

.

how they closed all the doors

and as all the oxygen drained away

in just a few moments 8 minus 4 was 3.

.

So when my old red hen started to droop

and huddle in dark corners, crap stuck to her tail

I picked her up, and held her close to snap her neck,

.

but worried uncertain hands would leave her

with a head grotesquely skewed,

so I tried to chop off her head with an axe,

.

imagined a headless hen spraying blood,

spattering the deck. I thought then of Michael Portillo

 and his lack of concern, so close to death.

.

I took a cardboard box, made her a nest;

she fluffed her feathers in the near dark,

settled to sleep. And one after another

.

I covered the box in bin liners tied tight,

set the box steady and level, put my ear

to plastic rustles and clucks of contentment.  

.

And despite my dreams in the stifling dark,

I recommend this as a way to kill a chicken,

I’d  recommend it still.

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