Clothesline and Chopping Block–Ellen Roberts Young

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The stump on which my father beheaded
chickens stood by the clothesline. My parents,
when they built the house could not afford
washer and dryer. The chickens had pens
beyond the home-built swings set on dirt where
my mother in youth played tennis. I’d see chickens
half-plucked in the sink, their dark pinfeathers,
curled and tight, wearied my mother’s hands.

By the time I was twelve both block and rope
stood useless. Later, when the dryer broke,
my father was gone. No help came from him
for repairs; with a Reno divorce
he signed over the house to my mother.
They divided the children between them.


After growing up in California and raising a family in Pennsylvania, Ellen Roberts Young is now a member of the writing community in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press, Accidents (2004) and The Map of Longing (2009). Her first full-length book of poetry is Made and Remade (WordTech Editions, 2014). She is co-editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal.

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