The Mother Is Angry
“Be careful of what you eat.” Thich Nhat Hanh
She reads about angry chickens–
how they can’t just move out of reach,
rammed as they are in cages stacked
high and wide and deep
and so they peck each other to death.
Their night never comes,
it is always daylight fluorescent
and there is noise, constant,
with no way of getting out or moving
away to a scratch of dirt or grub.
The solution, she reads, is to remove
the beaks. But it doesn’t stop the pecking.
It only stops the drawing of blood.
It is another moment of knowing–
and not being able to do–
so she is angry now, too, about the chickens–
as angry as the chickens themselves maybe–
angry that their angry eggs are already in her belly
and the belly of her children
and she wonders if the farmer’s market
would have happy eggs from happier chickens
but she thinks a free-to-roam chicken
with its intact beak
would simply be a chicken.
She thinks that perhaps that is the point.
She calculates the days of the farmer’s market hours,
the schedule of her days, the price of the eggs
and the fact that the children, her children,
in this time & place & country often leave things uneaten.
She hasn’t prayed in a while but she strings together words,
briefly closes her eyes, prays for the angry chickens,
the hungry children–not her own.
She buys the angry eggs with nerve now–
or is it knowledge?
They are heavy, hard to crack open, hard to peel,
scrambled they are tinged red.
She tells her children, eat.
She is trying, only, to love
but it is mangled and she fears
it is what they will remember–
the beast of anger in her face,
the way her raised voice scalds
deep but near invisible
like the white half-hidden scars
raised across her hips and belly,
the ones that look like they might glow
lovely in the dark,
Rebecca Brock earned an MFA in fiction from Bennington College in 2004. On weekends she flies the skies as a working flight attendant and on weekdays she is almost entirely consumed with mothering her two boys. She is often coming, or going, or almost there, or about to head out again. In between the constant movement of things she reads and writes poetry for the mystery as much as those shimmers of comprehension.