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Richmond Ennui by Christine Stoddard

You used to scour the rag shops in Southside,
………………..where black families lived in trailers
………………..and row houses that were termite fodder.
Then you would realize costumes for white actors
……………….and white audiences in the white parts of town.
Southside reminded you of where your father grew up
……………….in Roanoke before the speculators descended
………………upon Star City and razed down the rickety
………………home where six generations of freemen lived.

There, Nana made the best collards in the Commonwealth—
……………..until you went vegan and wouldn’t touch them
……………..for fear of bacon.

“Fear that white mama of yours,” spat Nana
……………when you first pushed the bowl of greens across the table.
“Fear them white politicians in your uppity ole Richmond.”
“I’m tired of them, too, Nana. I’m tired of everything there.”

You pictured the black neighborhoods and their sagging schools.

“You think I ain’t tired? You gotta stop before you fade.”
“I don’t know how I can stop being tired when everything’s so tiring.”
……………Nana sucked her teeth and thus ended the last conversation
…………..you had with her before she perished in her nursing home.

You pricked your fingers with a thousand needles that semester
………….and you still had one more year to survive,
………….so, naturally, you became the mulatto in mourning.

“Lavinia’s not really black,” said a classmate one rehearsal night.
………….“She acts so white. She’s a really cool girl, not ghetto.”
You tightened your jaw as you ripped out a seam
………….for the blonde, svelte lead in the play.
………….Nobody saw you hunched in the dark corner.

Later, as you fitted the lead’s costume,
………….you said, “You look like my mother,”
………….and her glacier blue eyes flashed in horror.

Twelve. More. Months.


About the Author:
Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. She also is the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine, as well as the author of Hispanic & Latino Heritage in Virginia (The History Press), Ova (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), and two miniature books from the Poems-For-All series.
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1 Comment on Richmond Ennui by Christine Stoddard

  1. her glacier blue eyes flashed in horror.
    Great line..

    Like

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