The day I went to the farm there were two turkeys in the yard.
Big, fat birds strutting about, necks craned,
eyeing everyone who came or went.
Looking as if they owned the place.
I was six years old,
And not much taller than them at the time.
A city child, it was my first visit to a farm.
In the kitchen we sat around the table
my mother and aunt kept up an endless conversation.
I wanted to go out to play. The farmyard looked like such fun.
‘A farmyard can be a dangerous place,’ my aunt said.
She was deftly rolling pastry, kneading dough.
Her fingers were quick and practised.
The pastry was pliable in her roughened hands.
I sat following her every move.
fascinated, hunger growing in me,
dying to eat the fruits of her labour.
When the oven was filled to capacity,
she left the kitchen,
coming back a short time later, struggling
beneath the weight of a big cardboard box.
She put it down, resting it between two chairs by the door.
‘Happy Christmas Hannah,’ she said to my mother.
I walked over to see what gift fitted into such a big box.
A turkey lay lifeless.
I looked at my mother.
‘Come away from there,’ my aunt growled,
‘and mind your own business.’
I stood rooted to the spot.
I reached into the box and touched the bird.
Its body felt warm. I stroked its beautiful feathers.
My aunt took my hand and led me away.
I looked at my hand in her hand. Her quick,
practised hand and pulled away.
Going to the oven she lifted out the glorious tarts,
‘Have something to eat,’ she smiled.
I looked at the beautiful feast on the table.
My hunger was gone.
An hour later we went to the car for our journey home.
My aunt lifted the cardboard coffin into the boot.
My eyes searched the farmyard for the remaining turkey.
It was nowhere to be seen.
Until we passed the barn.
There it was.
The turkey hanging from a hook,
steam still rising from its warm body
in the icy cold of the December evening.