The Butcher & Wild Child

“Girl with Flowers in San Miguel de Allende” by Lawrence Bridges


The Butcher & Wild Child

Stephen Scott Whitaker

Butcher knows how much meat you eat and with whom and whom you meet as you carry salt, blood, and words. For his blade licks around fat and bone of lamb and fowl and beef and ham. His smile, salty, as he turns packages down or looks ahead with straight lines.

And Genie’s teeth buck out against the bone as she licks her lips across the stone unknowing the “Move along, move along” of his dictatorship, the corner shop that echoes with slick flair, a bloody mop. Genie licks her lips across the bone humming, humming, humming along, singing to herself the alphabet song as she rubs the bone against her skin.

It is true, it is true, it has always been true, for lovers of bone and meat, the Butcher knows well how well you eat, and the Butcher watches with his meaty eyes, the child inside the sunken girl swinging her plain brown curls as she plays with bone against her teeth. And the butcher goes on, sadly cutting and chopping and wrapping, weighing conditions of choice as Genie laughs and licks her lips along the bone, singing out with little voice.

The Wild Child, Genie Wiley was brutally neglected by her father. Later, in recovery, her caregivers would take her out into the world. She was fascinated by the butcher.




Stephen Scott Whitaker (@SScottWhitaker) is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, the managing editor for The Broadkill Review, a teaching artist with the Virginia Commission for the Arts, an educator, and a grant writer.