Three walls and a chimney stand
where the stone farmhouse was.
Milk maids sold churned ice cream
and brought cows in. Behind
was a field where dad took me,
cradled in the plastic shell
harnessed over his bike’s back tire.
On an acre the peacocks congregated
just before sundown in the quiet
of country, yelping louder
as we rode close. The chicken-birds
fanned, relaxed and spread
iridescent quill. On their back-sides
they wore ruffled britches like the ones
mom pulled over the flaps
of baby fat padding my legs.
My brother and neighbor boys
chased them from bed and perch
until tail feathers and snakeskin feet
dragged dirt paths through straw,
and I thought that must be why
they opened up to me and screamed
for what had been done to them.
Emily Elizabeth Schulten is a doctoral candidate in poetry at Georgia State University. She has recent and forthcoming work in The Hollins Critic, Rio Grande Review, and Secret of Salt. Her collection, Rest in Black Haw, is forthcoming in summer 2009 from New Plains Press.