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 © | Year Posted 2018

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