Hartland Peacocks

Emily Elizabeth Schulten


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.