Chicken Baby

Caleb Curtiss

We are redeemed on this day
of days: the emptied

beer cans we arrange just so
in the imperfect vessel

of our recycling bin, the old
batteries we tell ourselves

we have not
thrown away, or the whole

chicken that sat
in our refrigerator

for one month (a full
week past its expiration date)

now tucked
gently into a bed

of discarded tissues, browning Q-tips,
the moldy

dog food dug up
from the bottom of the bag—a fleshy

infant we could find
no better place for.

But now, sitting on my porch,
I can feel how its body

is my body, how its heart
will go aflutter, how its skin

will tighten into goose bumps
each time 

it hears a car pass by
as if that sound

were to signify the presence
of an angel.

Or later, the sense
of sickness that overcomes it

when it feels the can
rock back and forth as Steve,

the man who collects
the recycling, tosses

our bin back into the lawn
after raining

all of our aluminum cans, our plastic
milk cartons, our broken-down

cereal boxes into the back
of his truck, knowing

that its body is what’s left for it,
that its flesh will consume

away, that it shall remain in the space
between my sidewalk

and the street, forever
and ever. Amen.

CALEB CURTISS is the author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). His writing has recently been published in DIAGRAM, New England Review, TriQuarterly, PANK, and Ninth Letter, and is forthcoming from Quiddity, Gigantic Sequins, and Green Mountains Review. He lives in Champaign, IL, where he co-organizes and curates the literary component of The Pygmalion Festival and teaches high school English.