I come from hay and barns, raising 
chickens. In spring, lambs come. 

You got to get up, fly early, do the orphan run 
sleep till dawn, start the feeding. 

When the electricity shuts off, you boil water, you crack ice. 
You keep the animals watered. 

You walk through the barn, through the hay smell,
your hair brittle where you chopped it with scissors 

same ones you use for everything. Your sweater has holes. 
When you feed the ram lambs, you say goodbye. 

Summer, choke cherries; your mouth’s dry. Apples, cider. 
Corn picking. Canning for weeks that feel like years. 

Chopping heads off quail, rabbits, chickens. 
You can pluck a chicken, gut it fast. 

You find unformed eggs, unformed chicks. 
They start chirping day nineteen. 

You make biscuits and gravy for hundred kids 
serve them up good. You’re the chick 

who never got past day nineteen, never found your chick voice. 
You make iced tea. They say, you’re a soldier in the king’s army. 

At night, you say to yourself, Kathy, someday. 
We go walking. We go talking. We find a big story. 

A cracking egg story. A walking girl story. 
A walking out of the woods story. A not slapped silly story. 

A not Jesus story. Hush, Kathy you say, we get out of here. 
We find out where chicks go when they learn to fly.

Copyright © 2022 by Kate Gale. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.