The chicken that saved my children

Winner of the Café Writer’s Award 2009

Thanks be to the chicken, Haŝmeta,
Who came home with us in place of Sofia’s wedding ring.
She made do with a hard and dirty yard for her home
And as she scuffed and pecked and jutted
The hills rained bullets, the sky’s moan was shrill
Haŝmeta swivelled her head and saw my children crying
Alas, no egg would come.
We saved food, Nada and Almir grew thin
Their cheeks were hollow – not fat as children’s faces ought to be
Haŝmeta saw this. She worried so, her feathers grew thin
She picked at herself, hateful for the lost gold.
She stopped clucking those comforting noises.
She fretted and shook with every impact.
Then one day, I took Haŝmeta a slice of somun,
And noticed a beautiful thing tucked into the corner.
Haŝmeta scratched the floor, puffed her chest.
Sofia heated the pan on the stove
The children gathered to see the orange and white bubble,
The edges becoming crisp and brown.
Sofia and I watched as they mopped the liquid gold
Licked their lips, made lovely smacking noises
Their eyes grew bright, their faces warmed.
They stroked Haŝmeta every day, Nada sometimes sang,
We told her we would defend her forever,
We would never harm her. We would never let them take her.
When shelling was heavy we even brought her inside.
Soon she began to cluck again.
Each day we would have three, sometimes four perfect eggs.
We were the only family that remained whole
When the Chetniks came down from the hills.
Thanks be to Haŝmeta, the chicken that saved my children. 

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