by Matthew Harrison

Published in Issue No. 254 ~ July, 2018

A gutted Winnebago
for coop in a field
once potato filled.
Chicken-wire fence
pens chickens. Hens
peck at clods or lope
from nothing. Rooster,
pomp of black spots
on white, nods a plume.
Blue fighter jets zip
open the sky. Hens
freeze, stunned under
evolution. Rooster
has to be uncertain. We
lock eyes. Cocksure:
the bird has puff.
Rooster wins the contest
between us. I came this way
to ruminate moving this way
or that and rooster plump
as a weightlifter’s bicep
flexes a suggestion: move on.
Rooster is a monument
on a square of ruined earth. Sun
drops. Fence chops my shadow
to bits flung under beaks. Under-
standing, I turn and meet
a copper hen beyond the coop.
She cocks a glance. Bok. Behind
my back, rooster waits posed
magnetic to persuade copper
away from her dilemma:
me. How do I signal No fret,
No predator? Flap hands,
waddle right. No, keep still
instead. All night I’m expected
nowhere, so let the lady make
first move, as ever. I can wait,
rooster. All that’s left to lose
is time.


Matthew Bruce Harrison