The Undead Chicken
This is Rufina. She’s new to our household.
She’s quiet and doesn’t take up much space, mostly sits on her perch or in her ceramic nest all day. She moves around slowly. If you are really gentle, she lets you pick her up.
We sit by the pond together in the morning, before everyone else gets up.
Last Thursday, I answered a friend’s call on Facebook for someone to take this chicken. Isabella and I drove to my friend’s house in the South Valley, put her in a bin, and brought her home. I didn’t think she’d actually still be alive today.
My friend had posted this story Thursday morning:
The neighbor gave us fresh chickens last night for cooking up. He shot them in the head with gun and handed them over the fence. We bagged them and put in freezer for today. Evan gets home, opens freezer and one bird is perched fully alive, very cold, and pissed off.
Chase ensues… !! We now have a blind undead chicken in our yard.
Anybody want it?
I’m not sure why anyone would shoot chickens in the head.
But when I read the story, I couldn’t help but admire this chicken’s tenacity. She is courageous. She made her way out of a plastic bag inside a freezer and survived for thirty-six hours. After being shot in the head. I figured any animal that fought that hard to live deserved a little help, if only for a day or two.
The chicken hasn’t made any effort to eat like a normal chicken. Because, of course, she can’t see where to peck. (There isn’t much point in force-feeding a blind chicken.) But she does drink, so I’ve started blending up borrowed chicken food and water and giving her that. She seems content, grooming herself sometimes, showing no signs of pain or anxiety. And still, she will die.
But until then, we will enjoy each of her borrowed mornings by the pond, the sound of birds and running water, the sun on her feathers, expecting nothing.
I’m not sure why I have a blind, undead chicken in my studio. But here is one of my favorite poems, by Laura Gilpin.
The Two-Headed Calf
Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.
But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.