Sandy Coomer

The Chicken House

for my grandmother

So you would not have to live with the in-laws,
you trudged the field to the two room shack
that once held chickens, and before that, tobacco,
in its stale rafters.  A bucket of water, a rag, a broom,
made the chicken house a home with a narrow porch,
a kitchen with a kerosene stove where you cooked beans
and potatoes, and a bedroom with a stone fireplace.

In the summer, the ice man, with iron tongs,
plunked a chunk of ice for the chest and in winter,
snowflakes shimmied through the cracks in the roof
and you would catch them on your tongue. You churned
butter on the porch and listened to mockingbirds fuss
while the breeze built a storm above the tobacco fields  
and lifted chicken scent from the gray boards.

The in-laws called you stubborn, as raindrops splattered
in every pot and pan, as dirt collected in cracks, and mice
gathered beneath floorboards. But you would say your nest
was as good as a palace as you flopped beside your husband
in the creaky bed.  The crickets waxed their violins as clouds
spread harmonic against the moon’s molten glow, as love,
in its grand simplicity, strung a tune with the clothesline.

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