March 2023

Back to Issue 13

A Gift of Chickens

By Jane Frank

On the chickens’ first morning,

the sun beat a ruthless yellow

so they stayed hidden in chalet

cool— the latest shining stones


in the octopus’s garden that is

my son’s life. No one saw them

coming: it happened when

the moon had slipped behind


the pine trees. On the step

in a cardboard box: one white,

one black, one whisky-coloured.

Only pullet sized. At first


I think the carton is singing

until he scoops them up

and out and they dew-step

across the small city garden


to where the viburnum hedge

shines in the dark. Our labrador

barks. The possums shake the

lilly-pilly boughs. Butcherbirds


peer from high eucalypt nests

but I am the most surprised.

The chickens bring tranquility

he says— I worry at first that


they are a simulacrum for calm.

At night, I hear them trilling as if

underwater, a soothing sound.

If I’m honest, they help me sleep.