Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Cutting Place

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Cutting Place

Article excerpt

DJ

She's always been a tomboy, Mama Vic says, Mouthy.

Runnin' the roads. Not com'm' home, and as she speaks

DJ slicks back her yellow mane into a ponytail where it rats,

her slight thighs packed into tight khakis and her chest

lost in a baggy green workshirt from the Hess,

no makeup, all attitude, one hand grabbing her imaginary

dick and the other ripe with gasoline, newly evicted,

her lazy eye wandering over the Babel of seven kids

now occupying her mother's living room- My bitch,

Mama Vic calls her, my baby bitch- ana when this bitch rages,

the woman who made her daughters pick their own switch

for a bare-bottomed whuppin' she deemed The Peabody Special

takes her grandkids in, ambles toward the ailing

couch to pick out their nits with a comb.

DJ spits into her phone, Dat bitch better step back

or I'll beat her ass, hangs up, lights another Newport

as her name surely immolates in the mouth of the girl

on the other end of the line, and the children scream over

three porkchops and a slab of mac and cheese she's fixed

after her shift, her anger a fast-rising balloon in this room

where her mother's Madonna of the Dolphins

opens her porcelain arms over the television to bless

Maury Povich and his inglorious guests. …

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