Counting the Chickens at Summer Residency in New Hampshire

The summer before I went feral
something was eating the chickens.
We’d wake in the night
to their apocalyptic squawking
and knew some sacrificial mother
was being eaten alive, but we said nothing
because we stayed up late every night
fighting. I hated how my hands
reached for you while I slept,
hated the maternal love I couldn’t shake
from them. They’d learned to forgive
anyone who said they hated me.
Mornings we cradled our tired heads,
pulled our bootlaces tight
and walked through the still-wet grass
to count the chickens. The ones left
backed into their corners like baffled women.
The only things left of the missing
were their crop-circled empty nests, their down—
some stuck to the spurs and shanks of the living—
and their feet. Whatever ate them left their feet,
which looked like cupped human hands.

Katy Day is a poet, literary arts administrator, and single mother living in Washington, DC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, Little Patuxent Review, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Sierra Nevada College, where she was awarded the Exceptional Manuscript Scholarship