Listen to Their Separate Songs
by Leslie Ball
You can hear them from three blocks away.
From that distance, it sounds like a noisy funeral,
Keening, mournful cries heavy with grief and loss.
It isn't until you actually enter the poultry barn
That you're able to hear the sunnier side of roosters crowing.
And even then, you really have to take your time,
Walk slowly down each isle.
Pay close attention to distinguish between them,
Catch their individual voices,
Each one distinctive and unique.
From cheery celebration full of energy,
To baleful sob of gloom and doom.
From piercing soprano to horsed blues singer.
A buff cochin, rotund feather duster with a song of pure melody.
A large white frizzled looks like it pecked a live electrical wire.
Sounds like it too.
One iridescent jersey giant sits with its face tucked into the rear right corner of the cage,
Eyes squeezed shut trying to block out the cacophony.
Near by, a chesty plymouth rock,
So tall, when he lifts his head to crow,
His comb pokes out above the cage ceiling.
I wonder if any cage is large enough for their bodies and their spirits.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to stroll among these handsome creatures,
To listen to their separate songs.
But I hear both triumph and alarm in their voices.
Is there any generosity as expansive as that of animals?