Jane Mead
Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Eighty

What struck me first was their panic.


Some were pulled by the wind from moving

to the ends of the stacked cages,

some had their heads blown through the bars—


and could not get them in again.

Some hung there like that—dead—

their own feathers blowing, clotting


in their faces. Then

I saw the one that made me slow some—

I lingered there beside her for five miles.


She had pushed her head through the space

between bars—to get a better view.

She had the look of a dog in the back


of a pickup, that eager look of a dog

who knows she's being taken along.

She craned her neck.


She looked around, watched me, then

strained to see over the car—strained

to see what happened beyond.


That is the chicken I want to be.

Found In Volume , No. 05
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  • Jane Mead
Jane Mead
About the Author

Jane Mead is the author of several books of poetry, including The Usable Field (Alice James, 2009).  A recipient of awards and fellowships from the Whiting, Lannan, and Guggenheim foundations, she is poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at New England College.