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Late

 


Late

 

 

My husband is not home, yet.

I never know when he’ll work late

at Egan’s Slaughter House

in the offal room

where no white man will work.

Jacob sorts internal organs

the company sells

to make animal feed.

Before leaving,

he stuffs his pockets.

I braise pig snout

and serve with sweet potatoes;

I stew cow tail

with carrots and potatoes;

I fry hog maw dished up

with mustard greens.

 

My husband is not home yet.

My great-grandfather slaved

on a tobacco plantation.

To ensure slaves understood death

perched on their shoulders

like black vultures,

the overseer prefixed each name

he spoke with, “the late”:

the late Samuel,

the late one-eyed Melton,

the late old Winnie,

the late Thomas.

 

My husband is not home yet.

Maybe his boss caught him

and doesn’t cotton

to him stealing entrails.

Maybe when Jacob walked past

The Owl Bar, some drunk whites

called him “boy,” pushed him around,

asked about the bloody bulges in his pockets.

Maybe he tired of it all

and mouthed off without regret.

Maybe he’s dancing to swing music.

 

My husband is not home yet.

 .

 

 

Don Narkevic

  

Don Narkevic: Buckhannon, WV. A retired high school English teacher who enjoys historical research. Recent work appears in Blue Collar Review, Bindweed Magazine, Solum Literary Press, and Shorts. 

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