The sign reads “Live Poultry Fresh Killed,” and once the Mayflower Poultry storefront comes into view, it’s hard to look anywhere else. Aside from the dead chickens neatly piled on ice in the display cases, the store sells all of the fixings (seasonings, roasting pans, etc) as well as bright red t-shirts and thongs that proudly proclaim the store slogan along with their trademark silhouette of a chicken.
Occasionally, when I’m walking home on a warm summer day, I’ll notice the rest of the building: above the large windows of the poultry butchery is the façade of a beautiful old building, and when the weather is nice, the French doors on the second floor are open. White curtains billow gently in the breeze, and I’ll strain to get a glimpse inside. Is it an office? An airy apartment? It looks clean and inviting, with exposed wood beams in the ceiling and flowers peeking pleasantly from just behind the iron railings at the windows.
What would it be like to live above Live Poultry Fresh Killed? Does the smell become unbearable? Do the souls of thousands of chickens float from the killing room? I only imagine there’s a killing room; for all I know, the chickens meet their maker elsewhere. Still, the fate of the chickens must weigh heavily on the minds of those so close to the workers I spy when I walk by the back window. They wear white coats and hair nets, and although I can’t see their hands, I imagine they are plucking the feathers from the day’s hapless delivery.