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In a comic explosion of feathers,
the hens race to the safety of a compost pile.
I wave a dirty dish rag after them, a warning not to get
too close
to our first outside dinner of the year.
They start to creep forward,
combs waving,
lured by the plates of food we are bringing out.
I go to drastic measures, throwing the towel in their midst.
The hens raise their wings high,
and do a little flying sprint
out of the area,
shrieking indignantly.

After dinner I go out to the coop
and stroke them,
listening to their soft clucks
as they settle down for the night.
They slowly rock and shuffle around on the roost,
like they are putting themselves to sleep.
I give each hen a pat on the head,
then go back to the lit-up house,
In sharp contrast with the dark night,
leaving them to coo to each other until they fall asleep.

The Chickens Celie Kreilkamp
Celie Kreilkamp, 11
Bloomington, Indiana