Hen Eggs 2
by Stephen page
It is exceptionally cold this morning for autumn;
A tenuous fog clings to the frost.
I don corduroys, a wool jacket, a belt knife
And ready myself for adventure–Indian
Fighting, puma killing; but today
My youngest grandchild grasps my hand.
I lift her and step outside the kitchen
door. She is one and walks well already
But I have to carry her because the collies
Frighten her: they are mountainous dragons
With fire-wet tongues and hot breath
And teeth like jagged sun-bleached rocks.
She is armored in full-body polar fleece
And peers through the visor with wood-green
Eyes and sees that the collies lead us
Through the mist guarding us from trees;
She smiles down at them from her throne
But will not allow me to set her upon
Her booted feet as we head toward
The chickens, or kaw-kaws as she has named
Them as early as this morning’s breakfast.
There are no fresh eggs in the coop; her eyes
Worry, and I assume a ranch-hand bandit
Must have robbed them, but as I step out
Of the gate I notice a possum print
In the mud. The mist has lifted
And the sun burnt off most of the frost
So we journey around the yard, I showing
Her how to smell the sharp-scented jacaranda
Leaves, to touch and name the autumn
Flowers, to discern the silhouette
of mockingbird from ratbird;
her weight, her weight, strengthening my arms.
*This poem as published in the Linden Avenue Literary Journal
and later appeared in A Ranch Bordering the Salty River