Sunday, March 14, 2010

$1.00: A Poem by Elaine Sexton


for five fresh eggs in winter,
one of them “wrinkled”
the farmer says, but still good.

She’s taking down the sign
by the road, her answer
“worried hens.”  One dollar

for the eggshells’ hard
impressions, for the sudden
night of the coop’s daylight interior

and the white shepherd
sniffing my shoes, not
threatening but not friendly either.

For a dollar, six grubby geese
greet me in the drive
and circle back behind the barn

where, for free, a thick
white birch—split in two,
her torso, a flash of lightning

reclines in the dark arms of oaks.
The kind-faced proprietor
has no pitch, no ticking to rush

and thus break this
measure of commerce.
It’s a New Year.  All umbrage

clears, all fractures will heal,
calmly, without pretense,
the way paint peels from a fence.

January, 2010

      —Poem and Photographs by Elaine Sexton

Elaine Sexton is the author of two collections of poetry, Sleuth (2003), and Causeway (2008), both with New Issues (Western Michigan University).  Her poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals including American Poetry Review, Art in America, ARTnews, Poetry, and Pleiades.


  1. Thank you for the treat of an Elaine Sexton poem & photographs. I have never seen a curiously wrinkled egg before. As it happens, though, a friend has just begun a life with chickens (a grand total of two so far), & she brought me the first eggs, which (naturally) I had to document. These she gathered over three days, for the hen lays once a day, around eleven o'clock.

  2. Welcome, kookaburra! And very lovely eggs you have documented (naturally). Thank you for stopping by and for this wonderful addition to the post.

  3. Thank you for posting this sweet contribution to our blog from Elaine Sexton. It brings back memories of gathering eggs in my Granny's back yard - lovely!

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem. Lots of people in the village keep hens and sell their eggs. They are often odd shapes and sizes but taste divine. The difference between fresh free range eggs and shop bought standard sized eggs.
    It is a delight to collect and hold the still warm eggs. A task I gladly do when staying in Wales with my friend and then to eat these newly layed eggs for breakfast.
    Also thank you for the many welcome visits to my blog and the lovely messages you leave.

  5. On the topic of eggs: In retirement my mother, Edith, kept chickens.

    And they were given, of course, room to roam and a very healthy diet. The eggs were delicious- - usually brown, thick shelled and abundant. She claimed they - the chickens - made for excellent companions, that they conversed readily and were easily upset and offended by neglect or other slights to their sense of self worth and well-being.

    Abandoning these chickens to a caretaker for a few weeks my mother gathered fresh eggs to take across the Atlantic and across the continent to her mother who lived in California.

    Frances - who had grown up on a farm in Derbyshire in the 19th century - often said that you could not get a good egg in America.

    But - stopped at customs at JFK these eggs were confiscated as a health hazard and contraband. Did the customs official take them home to eat? Or were they kept at arms length to be vaporised as threats to the American way of farming? Who knows.

    Worried hens and wrinkled eggs? I can believe it.

  6. My Mom and Grandpa raised chickens starting with the delivery of a box of baby chicks which were kept on the back porch in a special enclosure warmed by a light bulb. The cute little chicks soon developed into rather gawky pullets and finally became hens and roosters.

    The adult chickens lived in a coop in a yard surrounded by a wire fence and, except for that containment, were more or less free range fowl. Sometimes one or two would escape through the gate when we went into the coop to gather eggs. It was fun to hear the hens cackle to announce the production of a fresh egg. It was fun, too, to hear the roosters crow at dawn.

    The main purpose for the flock was to supply the family with eggs and with chicken dinners. The latter necessitated the slaughter of the chicken and the even more unpleasant process of plucking and singeing the feathers. The disembowelment with the entrails floating in a pan of water sent me racing from the scene holding my nose and looking the other way lest I lose my appetite for the dinner to come later in the day.

    When my grandson was just a little tot we went to the zoo where very colorful chickens roamed freely. A young chicken, mistaking his toes for nice pink grubs, took a couple of pecks before I could shoo it away. He was not amused.

    We also had chicks in our basement bathroom, I remember the incident, but don’t recall how they got to be there. I think we had to keep them in the bathroom in order to keep the family cat from attacking them. Beyond that I have no recollection.

    That is my report about chickens and eggs.

  7. RE: the chicks in the SECOND bathroom...

    I purchased the chickens at the Jewel Food Store who was selling them at Easter time. I was amazed and pleased that you let me keep them & yes you let it be known that Jewel was remiss in selling them to minors. When they started to mature you tactfully asked me if we could put them on a relative’s farm where they would be happier.

    I believe we were all relieved (Snoopy as well) when mom came up with the idea to put the chicks on a farm!

  8. Such wonderful comments Elaine's poem and photos have inspired! Many thanks to Elaine and to all of you for taking the time to share your memories of and experience with fresh eggs!

  9. Thank you for this lovely poem. It and the subsequent comments have been quite enlightening for this city-bred girl. I don't think I saw a chicken not stamped "Perdue" until I was in my 20's.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.