Sylvia hums warm cooing sounds of appreciation as I play Nina Simone. She lifts herself onto hesitant, still damaged legs and sways, from the mysterious power of music or from physical discomfort, I can’t tell. Her head dips almost in time to the slow moody rhythms of Nina’s soulful testimony: “When you’re young, gifted and black, your soul’s intact.” A deep gutteral vibrto continues to purr from the seat of her consciousness as she chicken-bob-nods her approval of Nina’s mesage. She seems to be enjoying herself, but how do I know?
When I switch out Nina Simone for Neil Diamond (just cruising the N-shelf of Dave’s collection), Sylvia sits back down and sings a full-throated Sweet Caroline. It is the best chicken-karaoke I’ve ever heard. I lean the mop against the kitchen counter and join Sylvia in the living room for a duet. She stretches her neck to full length and tilts her head, aiming a single beady eye at me. I’m pretty sure this chicken has just challenged me to a sing-off. I know all the words to Sweet Caroline so I’m not worried about losing this contest. I sing, she sings, we sing together. Louder and louder. It’s almost painful how much effort we are putting into this contest. “Reaching out. Touching me. Touching you.”
When the song ends, we are both panting. I know I’m out of breath from the dancing. As for Sylvia, it’s probably dehydration. When I look down it is immediately clear that Sylvia has won the challenge. Next to her in the rubbermaid bin in which she lives is a perfect beautiful brown egg. Neil Diamond just brings out the best in everyone.
That was her first egg since she was injured six months ago. We didn’t know if she would lay again.
Update: Four months have passed since that first egg and in that time Sylvia has given us 14 eggs. I’d say it’s official: The bird is back!