Spoon-Rest Mammies

By Skye Jackson

on tuesday at work
my manager, a brown latina
married to a black man
approaches me
with a smile she sets
something down
in front of me
and asks
what do you think
about these?
i look down
at a porcelain spoon-rest
shaped into the swollen
figure of a mammy:
her lips exaggerated
& face dark
like the bark of a dead tree
the dress painted jemima red
with a white apron
tied chain-taut
around her waist
my heart races in its cage
after a second i say
we shouldn’t sell these
they are offensive
my manager purses her lips
sighs and says
but they sell, my dear skye
people buy them

at the end of my shift
a latina woman
with frizzy bleached blonde
hair stands in front of me
she says
i’m from california
just buying these for my kids
as a joke
they’re gonna be so mad
she says
they’re gonna be so mad
i bought these
she hands me
two of the mammy spoon-rests
make sure you wrap them up good
i’d hate
for them to break
on the flight back home
so i protect them
in paper and bubble-wrap
carefully place each one
in a plastic bag
you know, the lady says
your store shouldn’t carry these
i hand her the bag
smile and say
but they sell

three weeks later
my manager
hands me a cardboard box
i open it
to all the spoon-rest mammies
gathered together
they all smile up at me
from the guts of the box
my manager says
i tried to donate them to goodwill
but the guy accepting donations said:
i won’t sell these

but if you want
i can throw them
in the dumpster out back

i’d be happy
to do that