St. Cornish: Patron Saint of Broilers by Skee Goedhart; for more information, visit

St. Cornish: Patron Saint of Broilers by Skee Goedhart; for more information, visit

The Best Shade of Blue

by M.A. Jay

Everything was red that day. The newly painted chicken coop, the wheel barrel we used to haul sticks and pine needles, the fire, us. As we labored over the lawn we saw them. Her feathers scattered along the plowed cornfield and our property line. Her plumage was white and brown and all that was left.

I had closed the coop two nights before and peeked in and saw Montana and Roosie nestled in their roosting boxes, but no Hannah. I had assumed, hoped, that she was deeper in the dark of the coop. I had been too tired to really care. But the next day there was only one egg instead of two and now a poof of her down on our lawn.

My husband mowed over that spot. I wanted the blades to scatter her feathers in the wind, like you would spread someone’s ashes over water, but they stayed and stained that newly cut green.

We spread our limbs on the couch that night and watched V for Vendetta and saw more red. V said that it is never meaningless to apologize, and I’m sure the rule still applies to birds; I’m sorry. I hope it was quick and painless and I hope heaven is bigger and brighter and the best shade of blue.

Empty Nest

I found out that you miscarried and I found a hollow egg in a wiry nest in my grass on the same day.  I had a moment of worry that the nest had fallen and maybe the egg had cracked and the chick hadn’t survived, but there was a tiny perforation that proved my fear false.  In that moment before the relief, I was nervous but ready to help in my human way. I would have cupped it in my palms and whispered encouraging things.

But you’ll never get the satisfaction of watching anything hatch. You had the fear, the nervousness, yes, but you were ready. And now you have nothing to ready yourself for. Only that lingering fear that you now fully understand as a mom. The horrifying realization that you can do everything and still end up with nothing.

I was cradled by my hammock that night. The light parachute blue and gray comforted me without the complication of human hands.  I would lie inside that smooth speckled egg and rest in twigs. I would focus on the blackness inside and then I would offer you that place to hide.

M.A. Jay

About M.A. Jay

M.A. Jay is a wife, mother, and teacher. She graduated from Boise State University and currently lives with her husband and son in Indiana. One of her pieces recently received First Place in Exposition Review’s Flash 405, April 2016 “Fault” competition.

One Response to “Essays”

  1. Skee Goedhart

    Hi M.A. Jay, really lovely words in your The Best Shade of Blue work! Appreciate that you featured my work and very thankful that you included my contact info!


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