Rhode Island Red

Eight long Junes she's laboured,
as all chickens do, on this or that;
stretched under the overhead blue,
watching flies, beaking contentedly.

Now her legs are wasted, her head
no longer bobs and chuckles
sunlit murmurings;
she bites the dust, no heroic cowboy,

an old spattered hen whose mind's
quite lost control.

I bend in the chicken-muck
and lift a dirty glass

to her death-hour gape.
She twists to watch me, my old maid,
with eyes that strain to open
yet still retain life-beauty –
the colour of Seville marmalade.

Umbrella Head​