She is grounded; her feet lock on a small, wooden plank designed for flightless chickens to line up away from the ground. Her long toes curl around the edge of the wood and her wings tightly tuck around her like a blanket. She seems still even though I know she is always moving if only in her heart where she purrs and frets in small breaths. Her green eyes look up and focus on her friend circling above her and landing in the highest spot in their shared coop. Rosey’s longing swells in her chest as she leans forward willing herself into flight. Yet she stops. Dips her head. Lets out a small, sad song.
Chickens are birds first and they do not like being tethered to the Earth but prefer any sensation of being above it. As a result their coop is equipped with various roosting bars and planks at different heights. For the flying type there are some boxes stacked high so they can fly up and duck in for a little private time to catch up on personal chicken dreaming.
Rosey gazes up at her dearest friend, Henny, who softly calls to her from the top box, tilting her small golden head at Rosey; Come up friend, let’s chat the day away and watch the corn grow. Rosey looks at her friend and her eyes take on a softness as she tilts her head too and lets out a cry; I can’t get up there–it’s too high!
Rosey can fly and jump quite high but she does it with trepidation and fear. She has been this way since she was just a baby chicken dreaming of flight, loving it, yet fearing it also.
Henny has never had this fear. She lifts her wings and flies with authority and grace. She is small as a Robin and as powerful also. She has been known to fly the length of the yard and land on my head. When she does this I have the very real sensation of being a landing pad. I can hear the sound of her wings and feel the wind of them as she flies by my face. I hold my breath. I hold my face still. I anticipate. I am delighted and afraid. I am not programmed to have birds land on me but I want to be. I fear. I love.
She lands so lightly on my hair, skin, bones. She is a look out, I am her tower. Useful, the fear leaves and I am smiling, laughing yet unmoving and exhilarated. I wonder; how does this look? Then I forget the question because what matters is how it feels. I am soaking it in and suddenly she is gone, off to fly to her next destination. I think, funny how that fear comes then changes to joy and love each time.
Henny flies powerfully and lands lightly. That’s so like her. She is a bird only fashioned in love. If she has fear it has not shown itself. She flies easily, loves deeply and sings joyfully from her perch all day. When she tires of height and flight she breaks the rules and lays sprawled in the sun her belly toward the sky unafraid.
Rosey marvels at her pal yet she walks the plank and bar with caution and looks left and right even before sipping water at the cooler for fear of something, anything sneaking up on her. But her fearful nature does not concern Henny. She continues calling out to Rosey and even prancing on the high spot stopping to lift her wings like a Cormorant in the sun. She is full of humor.
Then it happens. Rosey walks sideways to the roosting bar. She teeters, catches her balance, lifts her sturdy, able wings and lands next to her friend. It’s an awkward affair with feet coming in at two different angles and wings out like a shaky skier, but she still gets there.
Henny gives her a peck on the beak and smiles with her body, wings dipping and eyes shining as she looks in her friends eyes who is squawking loudly; Henny, why must you force me to do this every day?
They sit and begin chatting. Before long the conversation becomes gentle and slow as the sun filters through the wire of their yard and settles around them splashing around their wings in a communal glow. There is no fear, only love. Once again Rosey is in her choice loving her friend and her life.
Calling comes daily in the coop and the choice presents itself; love or fear? Each day Rosey chooses love, reluctantly yet entirely.
Rosey teaches one wobbly step and flight at a time that love must be the choice, that courage is being afraid and pushing through to a better place.
I know her fear. Can I choose her love?