Riddle
Paul Hostovsky

Why is why the chicken crossed
the road the only question ever
asked? We know nothing of
the chicken herself, or the road,
or the nature of the crossing, only
the reason for the crossing and that
it was successful. Can you remember
the first time you heard of this chicken?
It was probably in grade school
on the schoolyard maybe, or waiting
for the crossing guard, a friend
putting the question to you apropos
of crossing a road. Do you recall
getting it right? Of course not, no one
did. Itís so manifest we miss it, then
fall in love with it forever. It becomes
the whole story. Itís an American
story. It erased its own history, all trace
of the chicken farm by the road in need
of repair, early spring, the forsythia bush
yellowing in back of the peeling henhouse,
the ax sticking up out of the tree stump, blood
all around, the dark blood everywhere,
and one spring chicken running across
a road for its life. Now hereís a question:
This chicken that crossed the road to get
to the other side, this white chicken that got
to the green other side, is she alive or
is she dead and just doesnít know it yetó
having crossed a road with her head cut off,
a head that thinks it got to the other side.