COMMON GROUND: A Poultry Parable

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Articles, Common Ground
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by Fiona Lovatt

The village hen disappeared. We thought she had flown over the wall. We had seen her plotting her escape. She had practised the flutter on to the water barrel, from there to the bicycle, from the bicycle to the thin cross bars holding the water tank that holds no water, but stands as a sentinel beside the broken glass of the wall. We were sure that was her route. We had not clipped her wings for months, thinking that she would stay with us out of love. Thinking that she would not wish to be an alley hen, a bird of the lanes. She could not have squeezed out the drain that takes our washing water out and down the bank. She disappeared. We missed her.

The village hen had been the first creature we brought here, not to eat but to keep for her steady gift of eggs and the ant snacking that relieved us of ant bites in the evenings. She had settled here. Gentle scratchings, a softening of the earth, a recycling of skins, and peels and pickings left over from the kitchen. No more, for us, the swept smooth earth in our yard. She would fluff it up and take her dust bath, scatter whatever we swept, peck through the mango leaves, hide beneath the garden. We missed her.

The village hen ruled the domain when we brought in the black-legged red-eyed companion with russet feathers and bold orange spots. The body language of poultry became captivating for there was no warm welcome as sisters. The village hen took on postures of authority – the outstretched neck, the head on an angle, the deft swipe at the tail of the cowering newcomer but they settled into an agreement of sorts, and O! we have missed her.

The village hen did not welcome the clutch of chicks we brought in next. She wanted their mash, their water, their bed. They had the advantage of numbers and in their trekking and scurrying they escaped her wrath. She ruled the roost. They, of course, we destined for the pot. We waited for laying that never began and when they commenced the rivalry and the pecking; it was too much. A league of nations without a security council to broker peace among them. They made a banquet for us when the nights turned cold. We have not missed them quite as much as we missed her.

The village hen returned today. No great announcement. Just the deference of the black-legged one, shifting back into second place, and an argument they had near the kitchen door. The sleuths in the house ran their minds back over her disappearance and duly took a look inside the couch that has been on the verandah since the rain stopped. Eight eggs. Eight eggs and some close to hatching… no cock in sight.

Did our good lady run off to find love? Has she been entertaining guests in secret and returning with the good stuff to lay this nest full in our couch? And how often did we sit there and she, silent, sat beneath us? She’s back to her tricks. She’s in charge once again. She rules the roost, and like any poet I have to wonder what lesson I can draw from this bird making her remarkable comeback.

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Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. timnwaobilo says:

    Do permit my unusually succint comment. It is borne out of an abundance of rumination initiated by this piece. I persist in my ponder-state.

    Lots to learn.

    I have previously opined, Fiona is an award-winner of some sort.

  2. Moses opara says:

    Fiona is blessed.

  3. Ezeamalukwuo says:

    I have to say this; “Lady Fiona, you are a goddess in the literary arena.”
    This is really good, a parable from the hands of a Rabbi.
    “Master Masters!” Say I, “Please explain to your apostles the deeper meaning of your lines.”

    I know that this parable holds more than a hen’s story, I know somehow, somewhere its figurative content rest waiting to burst out in time.
    I shall read it more, to gather by grace the beautiful message hidden herein.

  4. Anene Francis says:

    They say “a picture speaks a thousand words” but here your descriptions, with few words, are so vivid like a picture or movie. wonderful! I second all the comments above.

    O poetess, I’ll join you to wonder what lessons to learn from this.
    * Everything/everyone is not always as it/he seems. So brace up or expect surprises/ disappointments.
    * Things don’t always go the way we planned, not minding its precision.
    * First impression is very important. It would speak for you in your absence and make your return more or less difficult.
    * etc (I believe there are many more lessons)

    Though without formal training in the field, let me join the detectives in your house to attempt to answer the questions you raised.
    > since the chicks grew to maturity enough to be slaughtered for meat, they must have been matured enough to mate. If one of them was a cock, bingo! Else madam played away match o, then incubated her eggs in secret. Lol
    (Why am I having a feeling that this is about a girl raised in high moral standard and protective home but… etc etc?)
    Lady Fiona, you are advancing o greater heights. Keep it up.

    (0m0 if this isn’t a coincidence then someone broke into my mind. Was doing an informal research on a topic similar to this one for some weeks now. Hmmm)

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Geez, Daddy Anene, I read this twice, but could not still decipher the hidden meaning in it, but reading your comment, I see without hindrances the are good.

      Yes, first impression matters…the red chick gave in too easily that was why the Hen always gets the upper hand.
      And I too believe that this might be a story of a girl raised in a very good family…but as things usually leads to things, it is possible that unwanted something happened, and she went away to take care of it, and when that was done…she returned back to her place..perhaps her work place or something and got back her position without much fight.

      This is trully deep…I am in awe of Lady Fiona, I trully am.

  5. Wonderful as always, Fiona never let’s me down. A lot going through my mind as regards this piece, I’m trying relate it and certainly the joints are coming together. Thanks for this delightful read. Gracias!

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