Hen House

I pretend, for a moment, not to be terrified of birds.
You hold my hand as we glide through row after row
of beady-eyed, dagger-beaked demon fowl,
but I refuse to flinch.
I want to prove that I can be brave for you.
I want to show you that I’m strong even when I’m scared.
We come to sudden stop in front of one particular pen.
I drop your hand to wrap both arms around you.
There are half a dozen peahens staring at me,
and I have no doubt that they smell fear.
You chuckle to yourself, but I hear it and my eyes narrow slightly.
I reach out, run my hand along the feather cages.
One curious hen steps toward it.
Her ancient feet and black-hole eyes set off alarms in my body.
A blood-curdling scream builds inside of me,
but I swallow it back down.
I stand my ground and she slowly turns away.
“What the hell was that?” you ask, amusement dancing in your eyes.
I shrug, lace my fingers back through yours, and say,
“She can’t help that she’s a bird.”

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