My Old Kentucky Home

July 11th, 2009

When I was wandering around my hometown on a recent visit, I chanced upon folk artist Marvin Finn’s crazy, colorful chicken sculptures in the waterfront park. They remind me so vividly of my long-dead grandmother and her ongoing battle with her hens. She had a cantankerous relationship with them, because they were usually ornery and unmanageable and hid their eggs in the highest bales of hay stored in the barn. My grandmother was a devout and gentle Methodist, but she waged a lifelong war for her flock’s eggs and souls, all the while reproaching them for being a stubborn bunch of heathens and hussies. I hated reaching under an old biddy for an egg and getting pecked on the arms and hands, but even more I dreaded watching my grandmother chop off their heads for Sunday dinner. I still find it difficult to eat chicken without remembering the real blood and guts involved in getting it to the table. But these cheery sculptures also brought back the memories of fragile chicks keeping warm in a box by the kitchen stove, of the comforting cluck and shuffle of the hens as they went about their daily business, and of the ordinary beauty of their color and shapes. Returning “home” is always a similar mixture of warring elements for me–the blood and guts of the painful episodes in my life that took place there mixed in with the beauty of the landscape and the memories of people I once loved. I’ve finally given up trying to reconcile those two feuding family ties that bind. Like the chicken and the egg, the sweetness and the sadness are all part of the same dish.

One Response to “My Old Kentucky Home”

  1. V-Grrrl at Compost Studios says:

    Damn, here it is–your life story in one perfect paragraph. The chicken and the egg. Life and death and nurturing and sustenance. Beauty and sadness, hidden treasures, buried memories.

    Love this.