Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Eighty

What struck me first was their panic.
Some were pulled by the wind from moving
to the ends of the stacked cages,
some had their heads blown through the bars—
and could not get them in again.
Some hung there like that—dead—
their own feathers blowing, clotting
in their faces. Then
I saw the one that made me slow some—
I lingered there beside her for five miles.
She had pushed her head through the space
between bars—to get a better view.
She had the look of a dog in the back
of a pickup, that eager look of a dog
who knows she's being taken along.
She craned her neck.
She looked around, watched me, then
strained to see over the car—strained
to see what happened beyond.
That is the chicken I want to be.

Poem copyright ©2015 by Autumn House Press, “Passing a Truck Full of Chickens/at Night on Highway Eighty,” (Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Jane Mead and the publisher.
More Poems by Jane Mead