The hearts have again begun to beat, and the livers and gizzards pulse with mysterious labors. The hearts, laid in lines on conveyor belts, beat maybe for love, maybe for loneliness, beat a drumbeat summons to scattered pieces, beat to surround themselves again with warm chicken.
She’s young. She’s afraid. She’s new to the line. She pictures zombie chickens dripping salmonella who cluck onto her chest and peck tiny holes in her crisp outer coating, then peel it back to expose the veiny granny cowering beneath.
The hearts stop beating but she’s hopeless. She’s stymied. This happens sometimes. There are procedures. They take her off the line, take her into a pale green office which smells of bleach. Since it’s her first time, she gets the film. They start the machine, dim the lights and leave her alone with the projector’s click and the bright image of a beautiful woman wearing the standard silver hairnet and liver-red lipstick. The image says,
It’s ok. It happens sometimes. There are irregularities. Things get different. Sometimes we gut a thousand chickens but end up with 1,001 hearts. Sometimes a worker climbs on the line and rides through the factory, silent in fantasy, covered in entrails. Once a woman took a carcass as her lover and hid in a closet, madly fisting its body cavity and whispering secrets into its neck. It’s ok. These are just variations, the bird with the extra head, the occasional unbreakable egg.
The film continues to roll out comfort. Her thighs quiver, legs tense, breasts tighten. She begins to cry.