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.