I Would Like to Have Back the Inordinate Amount of Time Wasted On Contemplating the Chicken and Squirrel Paradox
I keep hearing about the chickens – the free-range, cage-free and antibiotic-free birds alongside their heirloom brethren, Blue Foot and Chantecler, Naked Neck, Shamo, and Vorwerk. Yes, Vorwerk. I’m not making this up. And don’t forget the one who lives in the joke-maker’s vernacular, and how it crosses some country dirt road or modern thoroughfare looking for a new excuse for being. There are more damn chickens in the world than any other bird, which in comparison to the vast bird landscape, is rather astonishing.
But I’m not thinking about chickens, at least not now. I’m thinking instead about how earlier this morning, as I drove the car down a quiet two-lane highway, I hit a bump in the road, which turned out to be the squirrel that was gyrating like a game spinner on its back in my rearview mirror, and how this entire order of creatures has an atrocious sense of timing that is as imprecise as a baby interpreting the arrival of pain. Compare this to how the chicken owns the jaywalking space in light of common sense and thick traffic, what with the slower foot speed, the rods and cones that fail them at every turn against predators, and being part of an entire genus capable of flapping its way to safety, yet time and again we let it off the hook unscathed, none of us ever flattening the chicken with a four-door sedan while the nut gatherer is destined to experience a different fate.
Until, of course, I see you running around in near-perfect concentric circles, squawking incessantly about some wrongdoing I’ve committed, which inevitably prompts a comparison of severed heads, meat cleavers. That forces me to rethink my lack of empathy for an unsuspecting brood of junglefowl for its gruesome exit, for its punchline status in an overused metaphor, knowing full well the fuzzy-tailed rodent would never fall victim to the blade. It would take a bullet before falling for that folly. Its car-crashing end being less about running and more like Houdini dying unceremoniously from a sucker punch in the gut.
Thad DeVassie is a multi-genre writer and painter who creates from the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of three chapbooks, including SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES, which was awarded the James Tate International Poetry Prize in 2020. He has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best Microfiction, which is in part why he keeps painting. Find his words and paintings online @thaddevassie.