My Grandmother Kills a Chicken by Guy Terrell

2nd place winner of the Streetlight 2017 Poetry Contest

My Grandmother Kills a Chicken


The hen house her grocery,
she strode the aisles of cluck,
straw, and feathers for eggs
reaching under each bird for breakfast.

Vegetables canned in summer did not freeze
in a closet lined with newspaper in the barn
heated by a single naked lightbulb.
A rural palace and grounds made from

a white clapboard farmhouse, a ribbed metal
garage, the one-room wide long building,
a hen house with flaps that rolled up on each side,
and a small barn with a hayloft but no hay.

Her dresses, with no patterns, always overlaid
with a yellow shoulder apron with two pockets.
She wore her long hair piled up on her head
but wore no head covering in any season.

After lunch but before the hottest part of the day
she selected one hen from all the others
chopped off the bird’s one god-given neck
then let it go as it ran around to find death.

The moon, a long pendulum, came every night
to rewind the day of chores that she repeated
without complaint or thought of letting go.
At twilight, she punched the clock in the only factory
where she would ever work.

Guy Terrell
Guy Terrell has previously published poems with Tar River Poetry Review and Streetlight Magazine. He recently published with co-author Jack Trammell The Fourth Branch of Government: We the People (Brandylane Publishing). He and Jack are currently at work on A Brief History of Richmond (The History Press) due out in 2017. He is a former President of the Poetry Society of Virginia and has won prizes in that organization’s annual contest.

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