Couped Dahlias

The men in starched white shirts hover around above. They lift each and every one of us to their noses. Sniff. Turn. Sniff. Shake. The lucky ones get taken away. Each passing day is filled with ticking sand. It falls forever, there in the hourglass by the kitchen counter. The red wheel barrow rusts away in the dahlia field by the fence. Be careful of the fence, they squawked to me. Careful, careful! The men in white starched shirts stand there, watching, waiting. Why should I be afraid? I am still cocooned in this porcelain mask, unbreakable, for now. They could never take me away, no, not me. I'm the unlucky one, the one that gets to stay, to live and die slowly. Today was my unlucky day.


Dawn wakes the crows who bleat with the sheep for the world to open its silver blue eyes. The men in the starched white shirts wear starched blue shirts on this unlucky day. They pick at their teeth and hang off the fence watching and waiting for our squawking. They're almost invisible, blending with the sky, but I hear their hearts ticking like the sand with dark excitement.

"You reckon them chickens come flapping out of nowhere?", the shortest of the men pips out.

The tallest man shakes his head, "No. They come from somewhere. Gots to."

"Why?"

"Makes sense 'sall", the tallest of the men watched our squawking heads with his beady black eyes. He understands. I am here; I was born for it. I couldn't have lived if someone did not give me the push I needed to awaken, to crack. Remember what they squawked: Up, Over, Out. Up, Over, Out. Up, my talons perched on their tips lifting me with grace. Over, my scrawny legs climbing and crushing the crunchy cocoon. Out, my wings wiggle me free, push me through; mother helps me with her beak. My porcelain cocoon whithers away like snake skin.

The tall man smiled proudly, "Gentlemen, I believe we experienced a miracle on this here field." He nodded at the coop.

The shortest of the men in the starched blue shirts looks to the sky. He sniffs the air and heaves a loogy into the field, "It be the time to get to it."

"Yes, it be the time now."

The men in the starched blue shirts by the fence near the dahlia field cracked knuckles and climbed over to meet us. They took the rusty red wheel barrow with them. Shiny silvers gleamed sharply in their hands. Sunlight slithers through my feathery wings and for a moment there's a warn tickle under my belly. I feel like I can fly. Today was our lucky day.





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