Friday, May 21, 2010

A glossary of chickens

My daughter, 15, brings a copy of this week's New Yorker into the car for the school run. I'm slightly surprised, but say nothing.  She doesn't immediately pull out the iPod, but instead she says "I'm going to read you something."  She proceeds to read me this poem as we hurtle down Laurel Canyon towards the school bus:

A Glossary of Chickens

There should be a word for the way
they look with just one eye, neck bent,
for beetle or worm or strewn grain.
“Gleaning,” maybe, between “gizzard”
and “grit.” And for the way they run
toward someone they trust, their skirts
hiked, their plump bodies wobbling:
“bobbling,” let’s call it, inserted
after “blowout” and before “bloom.”
There should be terms, too, for things
they do not do—like urinate or chew—
but perhaps there already are.
I’d want a word for the way they drink,
head thrown back, throat wriggling,
like an old woman swallowing
a pill; a word beginning with “S,”
coming after “sex feather” and before “shank.”
And one for the sweetness of hens
but not roosters. We think
that by naming we can understand,
as if the tongue were more than muscle.

by Gary Whitehead


Lucy Lean said...

Can you send Miss P over to our house for my 7 year old teenager needs an attitude adjustment.

shayma said...

that is a tender moment isnt it, with your daughter? i love it. x shayma

Miss Whistle said...

Lucy, she's on her way.

Shayma, yes, one of the best.

Thanks for your comments.


Miss W

Gary said...

Miss W.,

I'm so glad to read that your daughter liked my poem!

Give her my best,

Gary J. Whitehead

Miss Whistle said...

Dear Gary,
I am absolutely thrilled to hear from you and I will let my daughter know right away!
xx MsW