The Turkey Hen
Nature, to a less discerning eye, at times seem
partial to certain of her creatures,
sparing some the pain of death and loss, a blessing
we humans have somehow been denied.
Driving home one afternoon, I came across
a turkey chick struck down moments
before by a passing car. The turkey hen was feeding
off the highway, her other six chicks behind her.
I stopped. The chick lay crushed in a fresh splash
of blood and entrails: It’s end was
sudden and quick, too quick even to alert the hen
nearby who had no awareness of her loss –
a tragedy, we’d say. For she knew nothing of a mother’s
heart-wrenching loss and pain;
knew nothing of the human heart’s easy susceptibility.
But kept walking in that casual gait these birds have,
yet touched with a certain stately bearing, her head
pointed to the ground, her eyes
focused on only what moved and was edible,
untouched as a stone to her loss.
In her was only that driving instinct to survive, that
compelling need to set the example
for her remaining chicks, who like herself, sensed no
absence of their dead sibling, so that not once did
she lift her head from feeding or turn around to see
if all her chicks were there. A matter,
I thought, to take a count – but then, how mercifully
she could not.
I took another look at the dead chick, its wing-tip
feathers flapping in the rushing wind
of passing cars. I drove away unsettled – not by the dead
chick nor the hen’s indifference, rather by
the knowledge that her loss would never change her life.
Copyright © Maurice Rigoler | Year Posted 2018