Academic journal article African American Review

Talking to Wendy at My Mother's Funeral

Academic journal article African American Review

Talking to Wendy at My Mother's Funeral

Article excerpt

Let's start on the day I learn it's not a joke not some childish desire fulfilled not the day of the phone call my father's whispered tones and ladder-length pauses obscured by the metallic moan of file cabinets the slap of shoes on government grey linoleum. No. That first day of learning is me standing among my summer weight blue-suited

uncles carefully coiffured aunts and nervous cousins on the concrete steps of the law school chapel. My eldest aunt's face is a balloon warning me about

tears the weakness of them my brother is there but his hand is not there is organ music I think about my feet dancing on those pedals driving

sound getting someone's attention the tap of my shoe on the edge of the step annoys my

youngest uncle his heavyweight hand presses hard on my shoulder his head turns in slow disapproving arcs I feel like laughing I want to make my face move I want to hear something come out of me. My feet are going left and then right my head goes side to side someone makes me stop. I feel the roundness of the pew against my calf I can hear my stockings as they slide over the wood. there's a hand at my elbow holding. my brother whispers in my ear he's borrowed a voice. There's a program in my hand. my mother looks up at me from a tiny window she's smiling. I want her to take me in with her I want to take her out with me. …

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