The Legend of the Cosmic Hen

This entry is part 19 of 22 in the series Alternate Histories


Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Before there was a cosmic egg, there was a cosmic hen. Even in the absence of gravity, she couldn’t stay airborne.


She was alone. When her feet got frost-bitten & began to bleed, she had to cannibalize herself.


It was her need to bathe that gave rise to the galaxies. Bright dust spun out from hen-shaped holes.


Laying left her slightly crazed. To this day, hens stand over their newly laid eggs & declare their readiness to buck, buck — buck all! Only then do they settle, croon & brood.


Free range has its limits. For billions of years she waited in the middle of nowhere, listening for a car, for a cart — for anything on wheels to come along so she could race in front of it, wings outspread, making the first cross.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. “making the first cross” –calls to mind “The Windhover.”…of course. As a person who keeps hens, I enjoyed this. (For images of the chicken in modern poetry, you might like to look up Linnea Johnson’s collection “Augury”)


    1. Thanks. People who’ve never kept chickens might not get all of it, but that shouldn’t matter, I hope.

      I see you’ve reviewed Augury — sounds interesting!


  2. I love this, Dave. Such great imagery. I especially like “It was her need to bathe that gave rise to the galaxies. Bright dust spun out from hen-shaped holes.” The last stanza, though, just captures me.


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