The Chicken Trusser

Seven in the morning in the Chintadripet

quarter, and on the next street are women

with their baskets on the pavement before

them, threading jasmines on string to be

measured out to the lengths of their

forearms. Here, wire cages of white

birds are stacked one atop the other in

front of a blood-bright Vodafone wall.

I watch the chicken trusser emerge from

under the loud shutter of his storefront,

raising feathers with each step, like a

molting angel. He carries

nothing. He opens

a cage and in a swift movement has

a hen by the neck, then by the feet,

dangling it upside down so it stills in

that peculiar manner of poultry. “It’s

hypnotism,” someone told me once.

“They’re comatose.” It hangs slack

from his fist, as if caught mid-dive.

One by one, dexterous, he subdues

them this way, until in his hand is a

bouquet of fowl, suspended in sleight

before slaughter. In the cages, an

agitation of wings, packed tight.

With his other hand he loops a knot of

twine around their feet, lays the birds

against the asphalt, secures it, and

boutonnières them to the handlebar

of his motorcycle. Then he opens

another cage. When he is done,

a consecution of white chickens,

bound claws skyward, will move

through the city, bumping against the

bike like a heavy-tasseled shawl.

I walk away. I buy flowers for my hair,

and watch the women weaving jasmine,

their fingers twining and knotting rows of

small white buds, twining and knotting, and

when I lift a forearm of strung blossoms to

my braid, I can think only of those beaked

heads, garlanded together, the trail of

petals that will scatter through the city

this morning, soft as silence.

used to be brilliant. Now she's mostly a belle-lettrist.

Be first to comment