The Hen Builders, by Jeff Schiff

And then we were in Amatenango del Valle
expelled by the jungle
beyond the acacia and Brahma bulls

and choked hyacinth tanks
a few clicks up the blacktop
from Teopisca

bearing tamales de elote and meringues
and regional breads
so that we could sit with them

in mountain mist
under a tarped portico
on plastic lawn chairs

across the yard from where they coil
and dry and fire and paint
but do not think to date

or autograph their livelihood
clay hens
four generations

shoeless & girdled in local cloth
girdled but prostrate
before their unannounced guests

the streaked grey of feathers
the red of combs and wattles
stubborn upon their upturned & caked palms

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