Stories by Elinor Ann Walker
My mother told me how her mother wrung the necks of chickens around and around until it was enough. Feathers flew and bodies jerked like fingers before sleep. So hard for me to imagine of her own bird-slender bones, how she rubbed her hands together gently, rocking on the porch and humming some old hymn or other, her dry palms making papery music. My grandfather told me of pre-dawn stillness, then the white-tailed bolt, a shot breaking the quiet. Once I begged to see my first kill when they came back. The buck was strapped to the Ford, eyes fixed wide, head hanging, looking alive but for a drizzle of blood from its slender lip, its body draped on that car like a quilt that doesn't fit the bed no matter how you turn it. My mother told me once her grandfather drowned a litter of kittens in the well. There were too many, his thick hands hard in the water, this economy of letting go. What I wanted was to hold on. I was a child then. The grandparents have gone silently to the ground.
Stories don’t always end. They may loosen like skin with age and spill out of shape like words whispered through cupped hands ear to ear. Something about them may gape open like clothes; their seams may give. They may slip around me like borrowed dress-up that drags the floor and catches my heel enough that I pay them mind and don't trip.
Elinor Ann Walker teaches writing online at the University of Maryland-University College. Her poems (also under "Ann Walker Phillips") have appeared in Poet Lore, The Christian Science Monitor, Cicada, Rosebud, Mezzo Cammin, Soundzine, NonBinary Review, and Stone Renga (Village Books Press, 2017) and are forthcoming in Halfway Down the Stairs. She lives in Tennessee with four dogs and her family.
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