The Little Red Hen Tells All

Chiedo scusa a chi non legge bene l’inglese, lo spunto di lettura di questa settimana è in lingua. Per quanto ne so, non esistono ancora traduzioni in italiano di questo libro – se invece ce ne sono fatemi sapere.


Everyone wants in on it. Everyone! Not just the cat, the pig and the dog. The horse too, the cow, the rhinoceros, the orang-outang, the horn-toad, the wombat, the duckbilled platypus, you name it. There’s no peace any more and all because of that goddamn loaf of bread.
It’s not easy, being a hen.

You know my story. Probably you had it told to you as a shining example of how you yourself ought to behave. Sobriety and elbow-grease. Do it yourself. Then invest your capital. Then collect. I’m supposed to be an illustration of that? Don’t make me laugh.
I found the grain of wheat, sure. So what? There are lots of grains of wheat lying around. Keep your eyes to the grindstone and you could find a grain of wheat, too. I saw one and picked it up. Nothing wrong with that. Finders keepers. A grain of wheat saved is a grain of wheat earned. Opportunity is bald behind.
Who will help me plant this grain of wheat? I said. Who? Who? I felt like a goddamn owl.
Not me, not me, they replied. Then I’ll do it myself, I said, as the nun quipped to the vibrator. Nobody was listening, of course. They’d all gone to the beach.
Don’t think it didn’t hurt, all that rejection. Brooding in my nest of straw, I cried little red hen tears. Tears of chicken blood. You know what that looks like, you’ve eaten enough of it. Makes good gravy.
So, what were my options? I could have eaten that grain of wheat right away. Done myself a nutritional favour. But instead I planted it. Watered it. Stood guard over it night and day with my little feathered body.
So it grew. Why not? So it made more grains of wheat. So I planted those. So I watered those. So I ground them into flour. So I finally got enough for a loaf of bread. So I baked it. You’ve seen the pictures, me in my little red hen apron, holding the loaf with its plume of aroma in between the tips of my wings, smiling away. I smile in all the pictures, as much as you can smile, with a beak. Whenever they said Not me, I smiled. I never lost my temper.
Who will help me eat this loaf of bread? I said. I will, said the cat, the dog and the pig. I will, said the antelope. I will, said the yak. I will, said the five-lined skink. I will, said the pubic louse. They meant it, too. They held out their paws, hooves, tongues, claws, mandibles, prehensile tails. They drooled at me with their eyes. They whined. They shoved petitions through my mail slot. They became depressed. They accused me of selfishness. They developed symptoms. They threatened suicide. They said it was my fault, for having a loaf of bread when they had none. Every single one of them, it seemed, needed that goddamn loaf of bread more than I did.
You can bake more, they said.

So then what? I know what the story says, what I’m supposed to have said: I’ll eat it myself, so kiss off. Don’t believe a word of it. As I’ve pointed out, I’m a hen, not a rooster.
Here, I said. I apologize for having the idea in the first place. I apologize for luck. I apologize for self-denial. I apologize for being a good cook. I apologize for that crack about nuns. I apologize for that crack about roosters. I apologize for smiling, in my smug hen apron, with my smug hen beak. I apologize for being a hen.
Have some more.
Have mine.

Da: Margaret Atwood, Good Bones, Virago Press, London 1993.


Agli interessati consiglio questo sito, dal quale è possibile leggere estratti, poesie, racconti di Margaret Atwood.


4 pensieri su “The Little Red Hen Tells All

  1. Marina Autore articolo

    Grazie della segnalazione, Aldo.
    Il tuo commento era finito nella coda di spam, non so perché, visto che aveva un solo link…

  2. Pingback: Pages tagged "hen"


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