Home > Chapbook Finalists 2011 > at the Piggly-Wiggly in East Nashville

at the Piggly-Wiggly in East Nashville

September 22, 2011

from all origins ask why by Irène Mathieu

“a wummin always afta a man money!”

he says as tripe unfolds under plastic wrap.
rabbit loins look like chicken
beneath fluorescent glisten.

“where you put my money, wummin?”

she fumbles, tense.
three teeth two few,
baseball hat cocked back,
he relishes the scene he’s making
between 99¢ Cheetos
and 20%-off gum.

ice crystals pack
frozen burgers, frozen pizza,
and the man behind the glass
restacks, his hands reaching
toward me on the other side.

sugar is more than
its carcinogenic substitute;
everything costs. he clamors,
“a wummin always afta a man money!”

I think of his cells
blinking toward eternal pause,
insulin receptors rewired,
a heart that emerges,
both hands up, tired,
an ECG frozen
in a lipid prison.

history’s always after
a man’s vitality,
a woman’s vibrancy.
too much black and too little money,
and you could get frozen right in your tracks.


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Irène Mathieu is a second-year medical student at Vanderbilt University, where she is embarking on a career in global public health, activist medicine, and social justice-oriented primary care. Irène has been writing ever since she was able to talk, and her published work can be found in The Lindenwood Review, The Caribbean Writer, Muzzle Magazine, Damselfly Press, Magnapoets, Haven Magazine, and 34th Parallel. She was a finalist in the Jane’s Press Stories Foundation’s 2010 poetry contest. Irène’s photography and a painting have also appeared in print, in 34th Parallel, The Meadowland Review, and Hinchas de Poesía.

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  1. September 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm
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