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Sue Fitchett  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


small frames -  the hens of Rarotonga


write about the hens of Rarotonga

she tells me

they eat the scraps of the land

we’re so busy being tourists
peck   peck   peck
a wagon of hens circle us
we snap them
being careful
where we put our feet

everybody asks where everybody comes from
no one knows where the hens come from



our apartment’s very quiet
until dawn



here the world stares & stares & stares
but the hens don’t care

once they were banded
blue for this tribe
red for that tribe
yellow for another tribe

tours are banded
by nationality always

cameras around necks
glare into a wicked sun
these quiet intruders
ferret amongst the hens

catch the blue one!
catch the yellow one!
catch the red one!



They come across perimeters.
They come across tribal areas.

Brown & red ghosts.
Cluck quietly to themselves.

The Pacific’s sacred cows.
These hens of Raratonga.



Consider these propositions

A free bird is tough
A free bird is not tender enough for an umu
A bird that squawks in the morning should be eaten at night

We eat chicken from the umu
banana leaf wrapped, earth cooked & steaming

Are these birds those birds?

The hens just cackle in our faces

Too tough too tough
Too free too free



we ask

Why did the chicken cross the road?

over & over & over



there’s a cockerel that waits
a blue & red swagger
high on the island’s divide

our sweat
our muddy feet
our clawing fingers

work the roots
towards his beak

a jungle silent
beyond our skin



the Lonely Planet

has nothing to say

on the matter of the hens

now I want to read every

lonely planet

to find out

if hens

ever get a mention



lightly hens feet
hens eyes
cross her grave

Mary-Ann, beloved young wife
to a pacific whaler captain
commanding Harrison, a hen frigate

ships carrying women
& maybe hens to throw in the pot
feed men, make a ship a home

& when crew fell dead
by bullet or disease
bury their dead

Sarah Gray pickled her newly deceased husband in spirits
rather than let him slide into the sea
like an ordinary man

taking the wheel
this hen shoots the sun, reads stars
sails her ship’s cargo safely to harbour



lucky hens
so few enemies
so unhurried
so mindful
I would invite their peace
into my house
into my bed
but would I follow a hen
for a year
gaze at an empty sky
my pulse quiet
ears straining
for wings through air
a stoop towards flesh
the hot blood flow
from each
slice & gouge
the heart open to the sun



we old hens
the hen party



©Sue Fitchett