by Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, why should a hen
have been run over
on West 4th Street
in the middle of summer?
She was a white hen
--red-and-white now, of course.
How did she get there?
Where was she going?
Her wing feathers spread
flat, flat in the tar,
all dirtied, and thin
as tissue paper.
A pigeon, yes,
or an English sparrow,
might meet such a fate,
but not that poor fowl.
Just now I went back
to look again.
I hadn't dreamed it:
there is a hen
turned into a quaint
old country saying
scribbled in chalk
(except for the beak).

Last updated May 02, 2015