When I asked my grandmother how her day was, she’d say,

“I had to kill them little chickens. I had to kill them little chickens.”

—Kiese Laymon


—and if we threw the lever, stilled

the line, righted their clasped flapping

selves, cooled the scalding tanks,

buried the knives, held each body

to a damp ground, to seeds

and roosts, Fall in her damp

brown dress calling for roosts and seeds,

feathers as protection, gloss, veins contoured

and valued on her neck, wings stretched and loved

at her sides, wings splendid and muscled

for the stretch, her breast’s red heart snug

in its beat, her cells knit into the fibers of her

for her life’s work,

that  not  ours—