Before the Feast
The hen is dressed to kill. For once in her life,
she travels in style. Her wings, sleepy as sherry,
fit in their pockets of flesh like folding knives.
She weighs so little. Caught in the cook’s right hand,
she cocks her head, she shakes the light from her neck.
On the road home from the market, the sun bakes
the cook in her own juice and salts her with sweat.
The stars blow themselves out. Now the oven wakes.
— by Nancy Willard
Nancy Willard (1936-2017)
Interestingly, besides poetry and novels, Nancy was famous for her children stories — but you’d never guess by this poem. 😉 Nancy grew up in Michigan where her father was a famous chemistry professor while her mother assured that she and her sisters were exposed to literature by taking them out to the middle of a lake on idyllic summer days and read to them as their boat drifted lazily. It is probably for these reasons, that Nancy once said: “I grew up aware of two ways of looking at the world that are opposed to each other and yet can exist side by side in the same person. One is the scientific view. The other is the magic view.”