Chicken Farming in the Pelican State

by Hannah Vanderhart

It’s not like we can choose what spears us through the heart.
What lone cedar strikes us as the clouds burn off at noon.
What pecan light. What clue as to how a person lives
or dies—clew like the ball of yarn at the heart of the
maze. Follow and you will escape the bull-headed man.
My father’s father owned the second largest chicken
farm in the state of Louisiana. A million layers, three million
broilers, sacrificed every three months. My father’s father
had a heart attack at the Sunday breakfast table, eggs on the
plate before him, my uncle upstairs, my father enlisted
in the army. Three months earlier, he underwent triple
bypass surgery. Three years earlier, he sold the lion’s share
of his farm to a leopard salesman with good business
sense. My father said it broke his heart. I never expected
a sentimental explanation, but nicknames for the state
of Louisiana include Sugar State and Sportsman’s
Child of the Mississippi. My father said,
when he was a
child, his father always left an extra egg
on his plate, and half a slice of toast, for my father to eat.

HANNAH VANDERHART lives in Durham, NC. She has her MFA from George Mason University, and is currently at Duke University writing her dissertation on gender and collaboration poetics in the seventeenth century. She has poems and reviews recently published and forthcoming at The McNeese ReviewThrush Poetry JournalThe Greensboro ReviewAmerican Poetry ReviewThe Indianapolis ReviewUp the Staircase Quarterly and Poetry Northwest .