All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir

by Kathryn Smith

Who resigned the rabbit to such blinking
silence when squirrels are given a stridency
that overwhelms the stuttering finch,
drowns the pulse of the worm’s twin hearts
undulating the length of its body. The puppy
left chained in the midday heat practices every
tonality of whimper until, far into night, it
yelps itself to sleep. One hundred
roosters, each with one manacled foot,
caw and cry and pry at the chains that keep them
just far enough apart to fend off
violence. From their individual roosts, calculatingly
spaced across a suburban Ohio acre, each bird
answers the call of another. Each day yields
four hours, at most, of silence. Otherwise, the sky
is constant collision, the auditory wreckage of twenty
thousand swallowed reports. Or so
the neighbors say. To the breeder,
it’s music, it’s beautiful, and for Christ sakes, it’s
the country. What’s it for if not roosters? What’s the wide
world if not a cacophony of interpretation—
the clicking of crickets portending autumn
or plague, the roosters finally asleep when the rabbit’s
quiet deception turns the garden to ruin.

KATHRYN SMITH has recent work published or forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Florida Review, Bluestem, Cleaver Magazine and Ruminate. She was a 2013 artist resident at Holden Village, and her work has been a finalist for the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the Michael Waters Poetry Prize. She has an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and lives in Spokane, Washington.