The Mysteries of Chickens and Eggs


For your reading pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to share a prose-poem piece I wrote several years ago.

Believe it or not, the writing that follows is my twentysomething brain's adaptation of the old 'which came first, the chicken or the egg?' riddle into a modern-day take on life cycles. I wrote this in a period during which I was deeply musing on the circular progression of an astrological birthchart through the houses. Obtuse though it may be, it holds evocative relevance to astrology.

Incidentally, for those of you who don't know, the title Foster Farms refers to 'the most trusted poultry company in the Western United States' (at least according to the corporate website).

Foster Farms

Eggs and chickens line the block in houses, a lonely old man in the model with the bonus room or twelve to a dozen, crammed tight in a carton made of cardboard, defertilized and sold like art. "Look at her curves, sporty and sleek like the new Dodge Intrepid." "Sure, she's got feathers and skinny-ass legs and a beak from hell… but can she produce!" I heard once that one was dipped in solid gold and sold to a giant for a godly amount of money (at which point he took it to some secluded cabin in Montana and sent out bombs from his house—under her name, if you can believe it). Many are killed and eaten, some raw.

Chickens just die, or are eaten and therefore must die. The ones eaten split: traveling miles through loop-de-loops of human intestine and into toilets into bays to wade and rot, or buried like pellets scared of wind, or burned; shooting straight to skies outlined in pinks and yellows, quick and direct, to the same place with a different name. So busy being detached: so little to do and so much time. It collects eggshells and feather and formulae, single letters or bales of cotton, a grain of rice, a grain of salt, a grain of sand. It dispenses mosaics, but whether each was handcrafted by artisans or randomly generated by a really big machine is anyone's guess. Especially you, an egg with an inquisitive nature. You never stopped long enough to enjoy just being an egg.

When you're an egg, you're an egg, and there's not much you can do about it, though you try. There's a part of you that's an egg white and a part of you that's the yolk. White, dark yellow, lighter yellow, less-white white: the old woman watching her cholesterol and the decadent little child eating Cadbury cream on Easter (laid by bunnies, no less), any combination thereof. Perhaps you are hungry. You want to eat, too; you want to hatch. So you expand like amoebas in frying pans—on drugs perhaps, but honest. You start round but bulge at edges. Look how pretty your curves are.

Look how pretty her curves are, the egg next door. You can touch her if you want: just ask and make sure that she wants it too, let her touch you too, stay near the houses. Better yet, build one yourselves. Paint it purple if you want, or turquoise with a mast like the boat in some book; majestic. If it's comfortable enough to return to, you won't mind taking moonlit strolls along the beached sidewalk or even jogging a mile or two to the beat of pop music on ear buds. Outside, where anything could happen to plain eggs like you and her and the little baby chickens, you'll pop to like Pop-Tarts. Don't eat processed shit like that, though, if you want to be a free-range chicken. They don't take kindly to foil wrappings.

—Barry Perlman