Monday, May 4, 2009

Looking Back

Lately, I've been thinking a lot
about my younger years.

Back when I was a new bride
and my husband and I were
a hippie-hillbilly-mother-earth-
adventurous-wildly-cautious couple.

Back then most newlyweds
didn't start out with the
(Now days everyone has a household
full of stuff and their own cars.)

We began our married life
with a blue '69 Datsun
that came complete with
a hundred record albums and
a German Shepherd named Abe.

We rented a little house in the country
and had dreams of self-sufficiency
and early retirement
and peace, love
and rock 'n roll forever.

It was fate, I guess,
that the old house
already had a chicken coop-
and with some fence repair
and a good cleaning,
the place was ready for
some egg-layers.

I had a picture in my mind
of beautiful white chickens
pecking around in the spring grass-
me in my peasant blouse
gathering eggs
as my husband played guitar
on the porch-
and we'd smile at one another
as though we knew the
secret to happiness.

I really don't know how it happened,
but we ended up with forty chickens.
All colors and sizes and shapes-
with some roosters for breeding
and neat little feeding tins
and watering troughs.

We placed fresh straw in the hen house,
furnished tight wooden cubicles
for the nesting mothers,
and bought giant bags of
laying mash from the feed store.

First off, no one told me
that these chickens liked to peck.
Gathering eggs was like
going through a mine field.
Trying to slip a hand into
a nest was taking the chance
of losing a finger to a mad beak-
or worse-
a hungry snake.

in my daydreams, I didn't
take into consideration
the smell.

Chicken poop is a smell
that is hard to get out of your nose,
even long after you've closed the gate
and taken a bubble bath.

And after a good rain,
those pretty white chickens
were yellowed and brown-
their gnarly feet clawing
into puddles of fresh mud.

One afternoon my husband
and I left for the day
and came back to find
forty dead chickens.

-All laid out in the chicken yard
like mounds of little
white grocery bags-
still warm and obviously
the victims of a wild animal
such as a fox or coyote.

There went those pristine,
foggy, perfect dreams again.

I was out there in my peasant top
helping my husband stuff dead chickens
into thirty gallon trash bags.

There was no guitar music playing,
no halo of peace and serenity
and absolutely no question that
happiness had avoided us that day.

There were too many chickens to bury
(unless you owned a backhoe)-
so we bagged them for the landfill-
Lining the driveway with three bags
of fowl-smelling feathered carcasses
that shattered every daydream
of Utopian country life.

it just happened to be a
holiday weekend,
so the landfill was closed for
three more days.

The summer sun became hot.

Those black trash bags sat like
mutant monsters in the driveway
and we watched in horror
as they swelled in size
with toxic gasses
and decaying chickens.

We even had to go out and
double bag them when
the maggots appeared like
fat, fingerling larvae
to attack our pitiful deceased pets.

I honestly don't know what
happened to them after that.
I was probably inside trying
to hose out my nose
or wash the chicken crap
from my leather sandals.

All I know for certain is,
that that chicken coop
actually looked better empty.
That sitting on the porch
as my husband played guitar
was the ultimate in
our cool aura of

Every once in awhile,
he'd look over at me and smile,
and we suddenly knew
the secret of happiness was--
an empty chicken coop!

I am still happy today
and very much in love
and enjoying my life.

But- you know what?
I'd go back in a minute.

Back to his '69 Datsun
and dead chickens
and guitar solos
and summer days
and snugly winter nights
and the dreams
of a young bride.

Of young sweet days
and young gentle nights-
and Peace, Love,
and Rock 'N Roll...