McGahern Knew His Dead Animals

Irish author, John McGahern, known for his simplicity of prose, writes the following in his 1990 acclaimed novel Amongst Women: The cut field looked completely empty and clean. As Rose and the girls were crossing the grass to the tractor, they almost stumbled over a hen pheasant sitting on her nest. They were startled that she didn’t fly until they saw the feathers on the cut grass. The legs had been cut clean from her while she sat.

Not a pheasant nor missing legs…but on its way out

Her eyes were shining and alive, a taut stillness over the neck and body, petrified in her instinct. “The poor thing,” Rose said. “Still sitting there.” Neither could bring themselves to look again. All that was left of the hen the next morning was a little scattering of down and feathers on the drying grass. “A fox or a cat or a grey crow. Who knows?”