Wind from the North screamed round radio masts,
tore down barn doors, gripped things in hen-huts,
pulled six flustered hens away from corn and flung them
down to Slawit. They clipped the tips of posts, treetops,
and rippling rows of conifers as they flew.
With alarmed flaps, they cleared the station
crammed with huddled folk moaning about the delayed
Victoria train. Like russet bombs of flame
six bemused hens hit the village, a tornado of feathers
swirling about them, a whirl of vermilion
wattle and comb, and skeletal, crushed umbrellas.
Their bleary eyes see the butcher pulling up his awning,
the hardware store dragging down its blind.
Boxed by punching fists of wind, the gabbling hens
trundle with indignant grunts past failing lights.
The library roof’s ripped off. Six Rhode Islands watch, confused,
as word birds flap down Britannia Road with bruised spines.
Dick Francis hurdled passing cars.
Cookson sank in the cold of the cut*.
Forsyth skulked in the charity-shop doorway.
Archer slunk into the Commercial pub.
Dan Brown blew a bee-line to the cemetry
while six firefeathered hens, weathered and ruffled
bashed again by wind and flying books,
croon out the storm in a mucky corner of bus-shelter,
scratching at Snack-a-Jack packets,
poking into greasy pizza boxes. When the gale dies
they’ll scurry home up the hill, forlorn,
contemplate their clucking hell, peck corn.