by David Blomenberg
And there are not one, but three ways
to hypnotize a chicken—all easily
demonstrable, given a hen and some space.
They show the power of hands
on living things. Pull the hen
from her hanging cage. Upend her
like a cake from the pan, a move
the bird strongly resists, and then stroke
softly her breast with massaging fingers.
Soon she relaxes, a dishcloth on the edge
of a tub. Or gather the head under a folded
wing. Hold her gently, swing her rhythmically
in downward arcs the other waiting hens
now sway to. Place her on the ground. She will
remain there, asleep, her backward knees resting
on the concrete until a handclap
sends her leaping. Now, for the last
sleight of hand. Lay your victim on one wing.
See the neck first stretch out,
the scaled legs flail in air, toes splayed.
With pointed finger, draw upon the floor
a single line that radiates from her blunt
beak. Trace it. Trace it again. Again. The mouth
closes, the feet stop seeking traction. Pull away
and the orange eyes fix on that invisible line’s
departure, that goes out like a song to the canted baseboard.
She stays tipped on a tucked wing to watch it go.