Issue 4 – Young

Ellen Roberts Young

Getting the Story Straight

Write large on wide-lined
paper, leave out the part
when the hero returns to visit

his grandparents’ graves,
a school buddy, the creek
where he played against

his mother’s wishes, and every
other circling back, the times
he had to relearn harsh lessons.

What’s awkward to say, slide
past. Where cumbersome
details slip away, close the gap

neatly as whiteboard wiped clean.
Forget that the westward
migrant went back east to die.

For reporters, that’s enough.
Psychologists want depth.
For them, tear off crumpled

edges of paper, iron wrinkled
cloth, hammer out solids, stack
them on a whitewashed base.

Don’t scrape your knee
on that piece of twisted metal
you pushed into the corner.

Don’t look when someone
sneaks in behind you, begins
wrapping words around it –

someone who knows a straight
story is not worth telling.