Molly Gaudry


lately the others’ complaining has increased

which means the end of summer and red roses

have you heard the one about the end of red roses

it is not a joke

it is a story

and it is called soldier beds

we shall return to it many times

but first

in order to understand it you must assume that red roses grow not on a bush but in beds of soft dark soil and thrive not under sun but in shadow and upon full bloom become soldiers that watch over and protect us when we need them most

like all stories about red roses mine is about restraint


and rather romantically begins and ends in bed(s)

but in the middle of this story

which is the most interesting part

is a crystal cage inside which lives a chicken whose claws and beak have been cut off

whose feathers have been plucked

whose skin has been stripped to reveal a smooth plump breast the shade of salmon

an uglier chicken you have never seen

I guarantee

but the chicken is a kind chicken and wears its difference like a dress

out of necessity

who can say

all that is known for certain is that every day the cage grows smaller


as the crystal walls grow thicker and the chicken’s aches increase

and as if that were not enough the cage rests upon water

free water



wild water

and if the chicken remains calm the water remains calm but if the chicken is particularly sore and feels nothing but outrage the water too becomes a pounding authority

so the thing is someone should have killed this chicken by now

but for some lamentable reason

a lapse of judgment


upper-level mismanagement


or the resolved hardening of a soul

or lack thereof

this chicken has become a victim of carelessness

we are all this chicken


we are all this chicken

or not

in any case

the thing to remember

the thing this chicken refuses to ignore or forget

is that it is not a deer

not a cow

has not been shot from a scoped distance

has not been sliced lengthwise along its four stomachs

and does not hang to bleed from between two poles until it is an empty sack of brown skin and bones extracted from its own meat


in fact

it rather enjoys its crystal cage because at least it does not have to share it

and besides its own body that has miraculously grown stouter

the cage is empty

and if only the chicken can stay true to itself and keep always relaxed in its cage bobbing gently upon the water

solid crystal bobbing gently upon liquid crystal mounting wave after wave

then maybe one day one of these waves will

but until then

there is a harmony between the chicken

the cage

and the water

so this is music

the chicken thinks

the chicken thinks

I guess this is a pretty good shelter after all

Molly Gaudry publishes other writers' books at Willows Wept Press, edits Willows Wept Review, co-edits Twelve Stories, and is an associate editor for Keyhole Magazine. Find her online at

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