The chicken lays stretched out on the cool grey morning pavement of the turnpike. Its white ribs are exposed to the new sun, and its still eyes uselessly stare at the violet and azure sky filled with multi-tiered clouds. Five minutes from now Willie will drive past the chicken. He will slightly jerk his steering wheel to the right to avoid the chicken because he a) doesn't want his wheel to touch dead flesh and spatter remains onto his undercarriage. . . b) someone somewhere told him that santeros (or is it brujeros) leave chickens on the road to transfer the sins of a client onto the person who touches it.
If Willie would have been paying more attention, he would have recalled that someone somewhere specifically mentioned that the dead chickens are always left at intersections or crossroads. He would have also recalled the importance that crossroads have been given.
It is on the crossroads that you decide where you will go with your life. It is there that, when you were Oedipus, you met with a stranger that was really your father. And as Oepidus, you fought your father and murdered him and casually continued on your way to Thebes to marry a stranger who was really your mother and have children with her. And years later, as Oedipus, you learned the truth of the path you'd chosen and gouge out your eyes as the audience looks on in horror.
Willie will not think of the chicken and the crossroads. He will try to really picture this someone somewhere more clearly because it has been years since he has seen her. The chicken will be vanishing in his rear-view window when he will insert his favorite 10,000 Maniacs CD and select Track 5. This song has always reminded him of her, and listening to it serves as a sort of masochistic meditative ritual. He will hear the song, think of her, and try to piece together what happened to them. His mind will uselessly try to pry at events, stretching out memories of times spent together. On the shimmering asphalt, he searches his lifeless heart in hopes of at least some sort of transfiguration (at best some sort of resurrection).
Was it August or September? Not that it mattered. Facts are only hanging ornaments on the Christmas trees of our past, waiting to be boxed up after the season passes. He remembers wanting borders, something solid and square and distinctly early 20th century. Someone somewhere wanted their love to be open like grazing pastures, growing green in April. Willie will think about how this need for definition is really a manifestation of his desire to control his life, and hers in turn. Years from now and from the chicken he will believe that her ultimate goal might have been to allow their love to grow without restrictions, making it ever-changing so that it would endure. He will blame this contrast in ideologies for the casual, slow disintegration of their relationship.
The truth was that she simply did not love him. The chicken knew it; the glistening asphalt knew it; even Track 5 knew it. He had spent (and would continue to spend) years alone trying to dissect and comprehend why someone somewhere was with someone else somewhere else so far away. He would wonder if he should have called again, or maybe he should have written a letter. He would contemplate what he could have done to keep someone somewhere close to him. None of which would have actually changed anything. Ultimately, he would construct dreams of a fictional life together. And as his love for her would logically fade, his love for the fictional construct of her would grow.
Years from now he will accidentally run into her in line for coffee. They will chat a little about their careers and friends who've passed away. In the spaces between the seconds he will try to muster up the courage to invite her to dinner, but he will fail. His fear will convert itself into silence and ultimately inaction. After their brief chat, she will pick up her chai latte, give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and tell him that it was good seeing him. As she walks out of the cafe (and his life), Willie will carefully watch her leave. For some unknown, Willie will remember the Cumean Sibyl's Greek answer in the epigraph of T.S. Elliot's "The Waste Land."
At 7:33 AM on this warm Thursday morning, a white Honda Accord abruptly swerves a bit to the right to miss the carcass of a decomposing chicken. Its opaque eyes beg the question: Sybulla ti theleis?