Hanging out with chickens brings the fundamentals into focus. Death, birth, grief, loss, and our communal nature comprise theme as well as substance of Jackie Polzin’s meandering narrative.
It was the pairing of miscarriage and poultry that prompted me to peruse Brood. At the outset of this short novel, the unnamed protagonist has been caring for her flock of backyard chickens for four years. Accounts of subzero Minnesota winters, poultry trivia, run-ins with neighbors, friends ignorant of eggs and their ways, and the narrator’s professional house cleaning eventually reveal the miscarriage six years in her past.
I came to chicken keeping in 2009 with purely utilitarian interests. A neighbor proposed a partnership, whereby our family would house the chickens in our existing but uninhabited dog run. Both households would share the labor, expense, and eggs. I readily agreed, but, ambivalent toward animals and allergic to most, I was up front: I was in it only for the eggs.