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dVerse — set — brooder

A hen on the nest | Govert Dircksz. Camphuysen | Oil Painting

burnished fluff
above cream and white
sets on fashioned straw
bright amber eyes
under textured soft red
tilt, watch, and wait

doughy hand curls
around, lifts, tosses
henkibble. squawk!
instant ejection,
propulsion, gobbling,
distracted, reveals
six oval promises —

promises that will soon be kept



I remember the few years we kept chickens. Several of the hens couldn’t care less when it came time to gather the eggs, but there were a few brooders, who were quite upset when we came to get them. I wonder if the characteristic of the human mood called brooding is based on unhappy non-human animals having their children stolen from them by humans and other predators? In my poem, I want this hen to have a happy ending, where her eggs are allowed to become baby chicks.

Merril is today’s host of dVerse.  Merril says:
Set your poetic course and use the word set—or some form of the word–in our unique dVerse form, the quadrille. If you’re new to dVerse or the quadrille, it’s simply a poem of 44 words, excluding the title. It can be in any form, rhymed or unrhymed, metered, or unmetered. You can write a haibun quadrille, too. Just make certain your total wordcount is exactly 44 words. You MUST use the word “set” or some form of it in your poem.

graphic:  “A Hen on the Nest,” by Govert Dircksz. Camphuysen

54 thoughts on “dVerse — set — brooder

  1. I love the sounds of this–and the colors in the painting. I never would have thought of set and hens. 🙂

    My former midwife now has “therapy hens” and fresh eggs. There are no roosters around, so the eggs wouldn’t be chicks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bjorn it is a matter of logistics, as hens often lay eggs in a few communal nests. If you are going to let the brooding hen hatch them, you’d have to keep her sequestered with her eggs, or you wouldn’t know which ones to take. We never tried to let the hens hatch their eggs, which was a disservice to the brooders.


    1. Chickens are a lot of work, the biggest job being keeping them alive. We failed them. The first time we had roosters which did a good job of protecting them, but they attacked us when we tried to take the eggs. We gave the roosters to some friends who had a larger flock, which made it easier to gather the eggs, but then they had no protection.


  2. What fun. My mother raised chickens and sold eggs, and I thought to write something about her “old settin’ hens”, which is what she called the brooders. When it was my task to gather eggs, I had a short stick I used to test to see if the hen would peck me so I could avoid rude surprises. I called it my “peckin’ stick” and as life unfolded and I met testy people I often wished to have my “peckin’ stick” again! I’m so glad you featured the nesting hen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ❤ Thank you, Kerfe. Yes they are. Ours were tame as we got them when they were chicks. We made sure to hold each one at least once a day. They were easy to pick up as hens, except for the roosters. Their rooster testosterone kicked in and they changed to rapist/protectors.


        1. The biggest challenge we found was keeping them alive. We failed. We had them in good enclosure with chicken wire all around, but the predators dug under the dirt floor, killed them in a gruesome way and left them laying there.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Dwight the mystery to me is why go to all that trouble to dig a tunnel in, if you’re going to leave the food behind? Why kill just to kill? I have yet to find the answer to it. I just know my heart broke when it happened.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a gorgeous description and a beautiful image, Jade! I have a soft spot for poultry, and hens are so colourful – ‘burnished fluff’ and the contrast of cream and white – and they make the most amazing sounds. I love the idea of eggs as ‘promises that will soon be kept’ – new chicks or breakfast!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They only time I ever tried to collect eggs, I managed to get a broody hen, which put me off the activity forever. Your ambiguous ending is somewhat chilling–will the promise be chicks, or breakfast?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A lovely write and also informative. I especially like the feeling of hope that comes from “six oval promises”. Chickens deserve happiness too. I have learned much about chickens here in the comments!

    Liked by 1 person

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