Chicken. Chicken. Pigeon. Crow.
From From the Heart of It All: Ten Years of Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an anthology of work that was produced at the Thursdays Writing Collective meetings at Carnegie Community Centre. Published by Otter Press in 2018. James Witwicki has lived in the Downtown Eastside since 2010. He has documented his journey in poetry, prose and photos as part of the Hope in Shadows project. Anna is now seven and has lived in the Downtown Eastside her whole life.
Organic, free-range, heritage chickens. Garden-grown, wild raspberry eaters. Peck. Peck. Peck. Peck.
Each has a different egg.
"Egg, beg, fegs, wegs, legs, lags!"
It's a pecking order.
Cherry tomato gobblers.
Heads upright. Heads foraging in dirt. Two pigeons and a crow. Sentinels. "Pigeon, wigeon, stijeon!"
Feathers of many colours,
Beautiful chickens. Difficult to describe. Variegated. Var-i-gay-tid.
Like the big, brown, beautiful
Is it ironic that the all-white chicken rules? Her luxuriant feathers cascading
Over muscles that move.
Authoritative. Precise. In charge.
The others may feel that she
Is a nit-pickin', peckin' chicken. We cannot know.
They pick their way around her. Obedient. Cautious. Slow.