Volume 11 • Number 1 • Spring-Summer 2019

Terri Kirby Erickson

The Knife Sharpener's Chickens

The knife sharpener's chickens scatter like pool
balls in his narrow front yard, caught between
the sound of sharpening and the revving motors

of adolescent boys showing off minimal driving
skills. Their days seem to be spent, for the most
part, sprinting from tree to tree, squawking, and

foraging for meals on the run. Though ignorant,
we assume, of chicken mortality, knives scraping
against whetstones and the whine of tires on the

busy road, keep the hens in a near-constant state
of hysteria. Only when the sun goes down, does
the sound of sharpening cease and the traffic slow

long enough for the birds to sleep—at least until
first light, when patrons begin to pull into the dust-
covered driveway, brandishing their dull blades.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of five collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in American Life in Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, The Sun Magazine, The Writer's Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and many others. Among her numerous awards are the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.