Chicken Pig

By Jennifer Michael Hecht b. 1965
It’s like being lost
in the forest, hungry, with a
plump live chicken in your cradling
arms: you want to savage the bird,
but you also want the eggs.

You go weak on your legs.
What’s worse, what you need
most is the companionship,
but you’re too hungry to know that.
That is something you only know after
you’ve been lost a lot and always,

eventually, alit upon
your bird; consumed her
before you’d realized what
a friend she’d been, letting you
sleep-in late on the forest floor
though she herself awoke
at the moment of dawn

and thought of long-lost
rooster voices quaking
the golden straw. She
looks over at you, sleeping,
and what can I tell you, she loves
you, but like a friend.

Eventually, when lost
in a forest with a friendly chicken
you make a point of emerging
from the woods together,
triumphant; her, fat with bugs,
you, lean with berries.

Still, while you yet wander,
you can not resist telling her
your joke:

Guy sees a pig with three legs,
asks the farmer, What gives?
Farmer says, That pig woke   
my family from a fire, got us all out.
Says the guy, And lost the leg thereby?
Nope, says the farmer,
Still had all four when he took
a bullet for me when I had
my little struggle with the law.
Guy nods, So that’s where
he lost his paw? Farmer shakes
it off, says, Nah, we fixed him up.
A pause, guy says, So how’d he lose
the leg? Farmer says, Well, hell,
a pig like that
you don’t eat all at once.

Chicken squints. Doesn’t think
it’s funny.

Source: Poetry (July 2005).

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This poem originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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July 2005
 Jennifer Michael Hecht

Biography

Poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht earned a BA in history from Adelphi University and a PhD in the history of science from Columbia University. Her collections of poetry include the highly praised The Next Ancient World (2001), which won the Tupelo Press Judge’s Prize in Poetry, the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and ForeWord Review’s Poetry Book of the Year Award; Funny (2005), winner of the . . .

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Poems by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Pets, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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