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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Egg Ministry

In a grim henhouse I find the faithful
clucking about the rapture,
and whether heaven is truly shallow and fresh
like a box of straw waiting for birth.
All eggs will break, I assure them, the laws of gravity
and rise from china bowl and carton alike,
from the unswept thresholds of batteries,
up past fire escape and silo, cloud and bird.
As they consider this, a reddish, bouquet-crested hen
nods to sleep and glides to jumbled scenes
of desert sand and sticky, Egyptian hands
grinding a bold, yolk-yellow powder
for mixing with egg and water—
to paint skin, no doubt. Later, Giotto
will use it to ignite his poor saints' heads,
while Botticelli will mute it for his Madonnas
whose petite, exhausted faces
in the flight-heavy dreams of hens would surely flake
and having flaked, leaf into the moist air
to spin and reweave a lost tribe of yolks
before shocked eyes if the halls were not empty,
the museum-goers not banished
to go sit somewhere on their children
as good parents should... Such is the dream life of hens.

To the doubters who jeer and stare,
call me misguided, I say, there are too many of us
to save; the battle over our souls
was decided long ago anyway,
so why not preach to the bookless chicken?
When they sneer I tell them, if your god is great enough,
lower your nose to an overdue clutch
and thread through the 17,000 pores of each shell
the odor of patience gone sour, sulfurous,
and once it has coursed through your heart,
sat in your stomach,
and you can no longer carry the burden,
return what you have taken to the dirt
which will gladly welcome your offering,
even as you wipe your mouth on your sleeve
and cringe at the chicks sprinting
from the shadow of the car you left parked
under the sign EGGS FOR SALE,
because you are now a part of the ritual,
a necessary antagonist
to a faith no less fragile than your own.

Tomás Q. Morín

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