Light and Dark, Grace Long

now der’s clothes to wash and suppa to fix

the missus want it all done quick

she hate my black ass

cus when i walk in a room 

she smell her husband on me

she watch his eyes fall on my body

and him lickin’ his chops like a hungry hound

i just a girl

but at night he make me a woman

the first time i cried

but then he talk real gentle like

say i real pretty and 

he stroke my hair

then it don’t hurt no more

he like to give me pretty dresses

and pink and yellow bows

and when the missus ain’t lookin’

he give me scoops of suga

and say i real sweet

one day mama caught me

brushin’ my hair and sangin’

just like a woman do 

she slap me so hard i can’t breathe

she say i got the devil in me

she make me lay down in the water

say i got to get clean

she scrub my skin so hard

like she tryna get it off me

it don’t come off

i done already tried

i just lay in the water while she 

scrub me and cry

then she fetched her old rusty knife

i say oh no mama! please!

after…i put my hand where my curls used to be

and i holler like i died

like mama killed me

then she say hush girl you clean again

About the Author

Deja Dennis · Xavier University

Deja Dennis is a Black woman storyteller from Peoria, Illinois, and a 2020 graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, majoring in Mass Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. Her piece “Ripples” was one of many that she submitted for the Truman Capote Creative Writing contest, winning the award three times consecutively. “Ripples” first appeared in New Voices.

About the Artist

Grace Long · Central Michigan University

Grace Long is a senior at Central Michigan University and is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Public Relations with a minor in Multimedia Design. She is passionate about design and photography and loves being able to create something beautiful and her own. This piece first appeared in The Central Review.

1 Comment

  • Reply Teresa September 14, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    BEAUTIFUL piece! Deja Dennis is my favorite!!

  • Leave a Reply