She strutted between carts and legs

while I loaded my clothes in the washer.


She was a Black Bantam. I knew this

from the county fair where kids

are awarded ribbons to give up what they love.


The woman with the chicken was amid

a band of bearded guys

washing their sleeping bags.


A chicken in a laundromat begs

the question: How long has she gone

without the cliché of a farmyard? She looked


like she’d never seen a coop or a night

or a fox or an existential axe

or a galvanized wall of wire.


She danced a little jig, beak

over her shoulder, as if

she held her feathers up out of the mud,


those feathers a smooth explosion

of fireworks on black, abundant

as a bowl of night.


She exerted a black gravitation, a hole,

a gyre of feathery sheen.


I think of chickens as homebodies

but uncooped of course

they would travel the world,


a nation of chickens wandering

the plains and rivers, disappearing

into forests.


Large and self-possessed,

she looked at me with the steady

eyes of her ancestors who receded back

into firelight.


She was used to walking through a room

of dangerous hands and yet

completely confident.


My world was a distraction

of judgmental machines spitting back

my attempted tithe of quarters.


I liked thinking about the chicken

more than about the woman

who brought her to the laundromat.


Leave me alone with this vision

of the chicken who was the star

of her story, as she always sees herself.


She gleamed in the eye of the universe,

and I gleamed in her eye, standing there

folding my clothes.