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Talking to Wendy at my mother's funeral.

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. People I don't know speak words I can't recognize We rise and sit Rise and sit Rise and sit Bow our heads Some kneel I can't it looks too far to the floor It's over. The law students mind our presence it's a weekday morning we have disrupted their routine they have posted eloquent objecting memoranda on the bulletin board in the vestibule. There is no food there was supposed to be food no food and the objections cause distress people are leaving. I am standing outside I shed my shoes the grass is tender beneath my feet. my cousin is stung by a bee I watch my brother rush her away many cars

rush away I sit curling my toes and stretching should I drive home? is someone coming for me? will someone make love to me? Soon there is only the chatter of students the sun is high my dark clothes bake me I want to be apple pie coconut cake bread pudding

peach cobbler Soon there are only rubber chrome rush hour sounds I rise and sit Rise and sit Rise and sit Soon there is a security guard asking me my business "the funeral ... the funeral," I answer there is a hand at my elbow holding. Monifa Atungaye Love is a McKnight Fellow in English at The Florida State University. Pvovisions, a collection of her poetry, was published by Lotus Press in 1989. Ms. Love is also a performance poet and has collaborated extensively with her husband, visual artist Ed Love.
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Title Annotation:Women's Culture Issue; poem
Author:Love, Monifa Atungaye
Publication:African American Review
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Previous Article:Sciatica.
Next Article:"Damballah is the first law of thermodynamics": modes of access to Toni Cade Bambara's 'The Salt Eaters.' (Women's Culture Issue)

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