Sidi J. Mahtrow
Free Range Chickens
Scratching in the sand
Henrietta mused about man.
Not any particular one
But the role of some.
Her friend and companion
Took time from dusting fun
Shaking her feathers
Like all the others
And carefully considered
The fate that awaited.
Seems just a day or so
When others were free to go
They voted to be free;
Free from responsibility.
It appeared to all
They had misunderstood the call,
For it was expected of them
To answer 'Man's' every whim.
They must produce an egg each day
(That's the price they are to pay.)
If they were to receive
Food and water free(?)
A bit of a strain but they agreed
They would accept it now, but would later plead
That it was injustice to all
That only hens must answer Nature's call.
Why not the cockerels or roosters too?
But then, why were there so few
Of those God's creation of the other sex
They seemed to be nowhere in respect?
They must have gone off to some other place
Escaping the burdens of the race
Where all were expected to carry the load
So all could benefit as it was told.
However, rumor had been spread
That they were, can you believe it, DEAD.
That's right they had been put away
Simply because eggs, they could not lay.
So we hens must carry on
Each day singing our clucking song
Producing one egg or more
For the ever-demanding store.
Of course we have the benefit
To range as we see fit
Although one can't deny
That the fences are quite high.
Fences to keep the fox away
(At least during the day)
But at night when the dog's asleep
His cousin often times does creep
And capture a sleeping hen
And bring her to a bloody end.
Perhaps if a rooster had been around
He'd have patrolled the ground
And sounded the alarm
Before the fox could do harm.
But no, it had been decided
That only hens would be provided
With the free and luxurious life
Away from struggles and strife.
Free; what was the meaning to be free?
'This, ' said the other hen, 'is what it seems to me.
Housing provided at no cost
Food abundant (but not of highest taste)
No demands on our time
Where lolling about is no crime.
Then there's the companionship of other hens
Why there is no need for roosters (or men) .
So what's wrong with this idealistic pleasure,
That we have in full measure?
Perhaps it's the crowing of other hens
That seem to never make amends
And their attempt
To come a little close.
Or maybe that egg a day routine
Gets a bit old and tough to maintain.'
Henrietta's thoughts could not follow along
So she burst into song
Singing the praises of the day
That had come their way.
And how happy it would be
When they were offered a trip to see
Distant lands and places
That were filled with shining faces.
Why she had heard of plans for transportation
To a far off place; most important.
They were to go to Campbell's Soup
A place for tough old hens to recoup
A clean and decent place
Where one could find eternal peace.
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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Harivansh Rai Bachchan
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