Home > Animals in the City > The Butcher Dressing Chickens

The Butcher Dressing Chickens

May 8, 2013

by Lisa J. Cihlar

I know of a woman who raises free range chickens on her city lot. She butchers them with an enormous cleaver on an oak stump outside her kitchen door. Plucked black and white feathers fly across the yard or stick to her hands, bloody from pulling entrails. She sets aside the heart and liver. The gizzard, sliced open, releases driveway gravel. Half-digested grass smells good green after the singe stink of fine hairs.

Three calico cats and one orange tabby pace circles, waiting for a flick of wrist, sending yellow feet to be gnawed, bright red kidneys bolted. Her son, watching from the broken rail porch with a can of off-brand cola, teases her that she is teaching them to love the taste of chicken and soon they will be killers. This all happens on the south side of Chicago in a backyard near the Metro tracks. The first morning train brings her husband home from the late shift. He hunches silent over the wobbly Formica table eating reheated chicken and dumplings as the sun rises, red gold over calm Lake Michigan waters. The butcher is asleep with a feather in her hair.

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Lisa J. Cihlar’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Blackbird, The South Dakota Review, Green Mountains Review, and Bluestem. Her chapbook The Insomniac’s House is available from Dancing Girl Press, and a second chapbook, This is How She Fails, is available from Crisis Chronicles Press.

  1. Anonymous
    May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Very likable

  2. May 8, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Especially fine last line.

  3. Steve T.
    May 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Wonderful work, Lisa. Nice visual images.

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