Telling our family stories: the blind chicken

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I’m nearing the end of my workshop series on creative writing through the lens of family stories. This week, we focused on a subject that is dear to the heart of my young students: PETS.

Many people, of course, consider their pets to be an integral part of their families. And, like any other member of the family, those furry, feathered, or finned members come with a lot of stories.

For this week, I’ve encouraged my students to write about an important event related to a family pet. For example:

  • The day they got the pet
  • The day they named the pet
  • The day they lost and found the pet
  • The day they ate the pet.

Well, you can’t entirely blame me for that last suggestion. After all, I did grow up on a farm and the line between pet and farm animal often got blurred. There is one famous story in my family about the time my dad served our two rabbits for dinner and, halfway through, pondered aloud as to whether he was eating Thumper or Bumper. Needless to say, all other appetites at the table were lost.

Which leads us to an important rule about farm animals. You shouldn’t name them. Especially if you plan to eat them.

Well, I’ve been trying to write the same pieces that I assign to my students. The obvious candidate for a pet story would be our cat, Griffin. I do have stories about him, and perhaps I’ll share one of the best ones in a future post. But I wanted to write something that would help inspire my students more specifically. I challenged my students to write their assignment in the first person point of view of their pet, and so I did the same. Here is my short and sweet poem about my very first childhood pet . . .

Scratch. Scratch.
I love to eat fat and juicy wrigglers,
The way they slide and squirm down my gullet!
Scratch! Scratch!
Unfortunately, I can’t see my juicy prey,
But I know when they are there; 
One quick stab—that’s all it takes
For me to catch my scrumptious treats.
Oh!
Here comes my owner, pulling his little red wagon.
I know what he’ll do;
He’ll lift me up in his tiny arms
And then tug me all around in his cart.
I don’t mind it at all;
It’s easier than waddling and bumping into everything.
But there is one problem:
I don’t find any juicy snacks that way.
If only my owner would toss me a caterpillar now and then; 
My life would be perfect.
But I’m so thankful to my owner;
Perhaps I’ll give him a golden present.
I could leave it right in the wagon for him!

Yes, my first pet, according to family legend, was a blind chicken. Remember, I did grow up on a farm! I don’t remember her particularly, but I’m told that she was so docile that she allowed me to pick her up and tug her around in my wagon.

Full disclosure: the photo at the top of this post is not of the actual chicken. We don’t have any photos of mine, much to my dismay. But, after all, I do come from a generation when photos were not as plentiful.

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