I have never appreciated
the eggs our hens provide
as much as I did
when I made quiche today
for lunch.
White, brown, greenish-blue;
some rounder,
some pointier
all fresh,
from contented hens,
free to roam the farm
during the day,
catch grasshoppers,
scratch in the alpaca beans,
peck in the ground for worms,
enjoy corn and pellets,
fresh water.
As I cracked each egg
and poured the gel-like liquid—
some lighter,
some darker
into a bowl of milk,
I thought of the hens:
the Leghorn, who lays the white eggs,
the two Ameracaunas, who lay the blue-green eggs,
the Speckled Hen and the Black Orpington
who lay brown ones (Speckled’s are a little smaller.)
I thought of Black Orpington,
who’s new coat of soft feathers was growing out,
and the Black Silkie, who wasn’t quite old enough
to lay eggs yet.
I thought of them with sadness
and deeply-felt gratitude
because when I went to the hen house
this morning,
all were gone
except one Ameracauna
and the white Silkie rooster.

Ten days ago
we saw a large possum
in the hen house
but it has managed to eat the eggs
we used for bait
in traps,
without getting trapped.
It’s hard to imagine
that one possum could eat five chickens
in one night (well, four; one was left
eviscerated, but not all gone.)
I suspect there are multiple possums—
we had removed four earlier in the summer.

Everyone we know who raises chickens
has to deal with chickens’ predators.
These massacres are terrible.
They are part of the life of a chicken
and a human raising chickens—
and possums.
We eat our lunch today
in reverence
and deep gratitude
for the eggs,
for the time we lived
with these chickens.