Tlacolula Market Chickens by Janet Andrews*
Large orange feet and toe nails sticking straight up in the air – rows of them – pull me away from the other sights, sounds, and smells of the Tlacolula Market. The four toes of each foot are spread wide just like Beth instructed us to do with our toes in yoga this morning. Wouldn’t you know it, chickens just naturally spread their toes for stability and connectivity to the earth while I, at age 74, am just learning how important it is to be connected to the ground I walk on.
But why are the chicken’s feet so orange, I wonder? My guess is they are fed yellow corn, but it simply may be that the chickens produced for the United States market have their feet removed before I ever see them. My culture has a nasty habit of trying to sanitize and separate people from the frequently hard-to-take realities of life. Later, I learned that actually Oaxacans feed chickens a concentrated Marigold flower powder to enhance the color of their skin and egg yolks.
Looking down from the chicken’s feet I see they are lying on their backs on a table with their feet facing the aisle. So I am now staring into an empty body cavity that is clean of entrails. Again our yoga practice comes flying into my mind – “let go of your vagina as though it would fall from you to the ground.” Well, the chickens would get a high score for accomplishing that, although I doubt it was for the same purpose we have in yoga.
These Tlacolula chickens, like the ones I encounter at home, have their feathers cleanly plucked, leaving their skin speckled in shades of yellow, tan, and red. Peering into the body cavity I see red muscle, yellow fat, and white fascia, cartilage and bone. All combined, these images allow me to believe my Corpse Pose, Savasana, is a lot more relaxing than the chicken’s.
*Janet Andrews is from Tucson, Arizona, and participated in our 2013 Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat. She came with the intention of writing more about her family history, which she did. She also gave us this witty take on her experience at the Tlacolula Market.