She doesn’t care about the shavings, how some of them

mat together between her toes, warm and sticky from the

chicken droppings. The droppings are why I dislike raising birds

always wet, always messy; my daughter doesn’t care. She

scoops a hand into their feed and drops to her knees, then

flat out, belly on the ground. She holds the grain still, peeking,

sneaking glances between the hair hanging in her face,

now inching forward, cupped hands before her

the prow of a ship slicing the space before it.

When one, daring, dumb, or greedy darts a beak into

her hands, she will strike, like a chicken snake, her hands

closing around it. She will sit back on her heels and cradle

the chick to her chest and soothe it. She will shhhhh to it,

click her tongue against the roof of her mouth to it, even

humm a little, wordlessly. The leaf broken sunshine

patterns her hair and the feathers beneath the hair,

shifting shadows.

The feathers, fluff-like, stick wet to my fingers. I grab

twist, pull, shake, the pile at my feet a small heap

of wet bird. When first it cracked the shell and pushed

free it lay sprawled. Matchstick legs akimbo, down slicked

flat, the chest heaving, vibrating with the frantic beating.

Next I will split that chest, reach into the still-hot

cavity and scoop out the now still, now not

beating heart, and drop it in a chipped mug set aside

for this reason. Tomorrow morning, I will cook this heart

in butter. And serve it to her, with eggs.

LeeAnne Carlson is a farmers market manager and a goat farmer striving daily to eke productivity from land determined to go feral. She has been published in Glass Mountain, Furtive Dalliance, and The University of Houston Magazine, as well as the anthology Odes and Elegies, Eco-Poetry from the Texas Gulf Coast. She was a juried poet for the 2018 Houston Poetry Fest and has served as Nonfiction Editor for Gulf Coast Magazine. She completed her MFA in fiction from the University of Houston in 2022.