A Glossary of Chickens
There should be a word for the way
they look with just one eye, neck bent,
for beetle or worm or strewn grain.
"Gleaning," maybe, between "gizzard"
and "grit." And for the way they run
toward someone they trust, their skirts
hiked, their plump bodies wobbling:
"bobbling," let's call it, inserted
after "blowout" and before "brood."
There should be terms, too, for things
they do not do –like urinate or chew–
but perhaps there already are.
I'd want a word for the way they drink,
head thrown back, throat wriggling,
like an old woman swallowing
a pill; a word beginning with S,
coming after 'sex feather" and before "shank."
And one for the sweetness of hens
but not roosters. We think
that by naming we can understand,
as if the tongue were more than a muscle.
- Gary J. Whitehead
I found this poem in a book of the same name. The book was in a box full of free stuff outside of a neighbors house. When I saw the title I knew I had found a treasure. I love chickens as I do all animals and like to believe they have personalities and thoughts just like people do. That may sound crazy, and yes, I do like to dress my pets up on occasion. (But that's pretty common, right?)
I like the last two lines of the poem. Perhaps by naming we are trying to understand, by painting we are trying to understand as well. I am not sure if we really do though. Maybe our brain like our tongue is really a muscle and not as capable as we think.
I recently went on a tear painting chickens. I thought of the series more like chicken portraits. I imagined grand lives and personality traits for each one I painted. Most of them are proud, one of them is gentle, one is really pissed off and one is inquisitive but really scared. Can you guess which is which? Here they are collected below. I hope you like them. There are definitely more to come...
If you liked these chickens leave a comment or buy a painting!
Talk to you later!