A man has a chook house and in the chook house he has twenty chooks. They have always been chooks to me. But when I am six and I say chooks at school everyone laughs. Is this not the word for them? I don’t want to say the word again. I don’t talk about the chooks at school anymore.
Later I find out the other word for them is chickens. But it is not a word we use in our house for the white birds in the backyard. Chicken is what we have on Sundays, roasted crispy. From the carcass my mother saves the wishbone and for a week it dries on the window sill above the kitchen sink till the following Sunday when my sister and I are allowed to break it. Each holds the bone with the curled smallest finger of the right hand and closes her eyes and pulls. Whoever ends with the bigger bit of bone gets to make the wish. Don’t tell anyone what you wish for. You must say the name of a poet after or it will not come true and we always say Milton even though we don’t know who that is or what his poems are because this is what my mother always says. I wish for happiness, never things, and sometimes goodness too.
The wish seemed possible then. All those Sundays all those wish bones, adding up. Life really would end up happy and good. It was all about believing. Adults told you that. They made it seem plausible. Like they really knew. Like they believed too in wish bones.