She Called Me a Dirty Jew by Phyllis Wax

I don’t remember how they got on the ground,
but now, seventy years later, I do recall standing
on the sidewalk and watching them grapple
in the grass, Mom and Mrs. Parker,
our next door neighbor in that small Virginia town.
Bare legs flailed and housedresses hiked up
yet no one stepped in to stop them.

Mrs. Parker was tall and beefy
and Mom much smaller but scrappy,
her broad Brooklyn accent silenced
as she pulled hair and scrabbled for hand-holds.
They grunted and screeched as we watched,
Shana and Dad and I, until Mom scrambled out
from underneath, climbed on top, and Dad
stepped closer and pulled her off.

I couldn’t break it up he told her later
until you were on top.

Phyllis WaxSocial issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax. Among the anthologies and journals her work has appeared in are Portside, New Verse News, Surreal Poetics, Ars Medica, Naugatuck River Review, The Five-Two, Star 82 Review, and Mobius. When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic. She can be reached at

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