12˚ F

The albumen and the yellow yolk have frozen.
Shell opens itself out of the swollen strain, a wholly different
shoving quite unlike the small beak’s imperative to release life
into a predatory world.
This time, the casing cracks, looses an inner ice,
deadened center too large to stay entombed, hardened already—
no soft tuft of pre-feathered fluff peeping insistent demands into
spring’s sun; and no omelet, either—
just a grayish solid stuck to shell’s white lining, a rock abandoned
on the cold coop floor in picked-over straw and gelid droppings.
There must be something useful in it, but whatever that may be
(fuel for a scavenger, host for bacteria, soil enrichment—)
                                         it will have to wait for thaw.


Ann E. Michael, poet and essayist, lives in the eastern USA, where she teaches English to students in the arts & sciences, practices amateur botany & entomology, and blogs weekly at www.annemichael.wordpress.com. Her books include Water-Rites, The Minor Fauna, and Small Things Rise & Go.

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