a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
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
Large and self-possessed,
she looked at me with the steady
eyes of her ancestors who receded back
She was used to walking through a room
of dangerous hands and yet
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.
Amy Miller’s Astronauts won the Chad Walsh Chapbook Prize from Beloit Poetry Journal and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and her full-length collection The Trouble with New England Girls won the Louis Award from Concrete Wolf Press. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Copper Nickel, Narrative, Rattle, Terrain, and ZYZZYVA, and she received a 2021 Oregon Literary Fellowship. She works as an editor and publications manager for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and serves as the poetry editor for the regional NPR listeners’ guide Jefferson Journal.