from a black and white photograph at the House of Dance and Feathers, New Orleans, 1995

She is not in black not weeping, not leaning against someone as she staggers, drunk with grief, no— She dances on top of her son’s coffin outside the Lafitte Projects where he was gunned down. She dances and dances unbending, limbs thrashing like Kali on Shiva’s ashen body. Gray clothes— are they sweats?— sway in the sun-blasted noon, her two living boys make music around her: D-Boy gone who that killed D-Boy who first told her the news? She can’t— some funneled shape his horn won’t blow. No lace, no shawl across her shoulders. Bare-armed, back cocked, ass out, she dances, yes— —another thud of percussion— I, no she grunts, pushing him out ripping open at Charity, fluorescent lights backlighting his arched shape —bright slash of the trumpet— he burns with fever, laughs at ice tracing the pouting lips late July, night blooming jasmine thick in the mouth I grab another sliver —slap of snare— —no, she does, it’s her boy, a number now pushing up the murder graph like a thermometer oh mama mama Men hauling the casket bend at the knees not from weight but from bass thump, from tuba’s fat momentum. Her sweats shift soft and loose as they play it loose and mean, a threat in the throb the trombone moans she’s gone past shiver past flash of brass glint & casket shine underneath her feet she shakes her head—look: she’s turning to look into everyone’s face.

ANDY YOUNG is a poet and essayist and is the co-founder of Meena, a bilingual Arabic-English literary journal. Her poetry collection All Night It Is Morning was published in 2014 by Di´logos Press. She teaches at Tulane University, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and is a free-lance writer for Heinemann’s Guided Reading program. Her work has appeared in places such as Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, New World Writing, and One, as well as in electronic and flamenco music and as elements in visual art. You can find her book here. “Woman Dancing on Her Son’s Coffin” was published in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume IV: Louisiana (Texas Review Press, 2011) and in All Night It Is Morning (Diálogos Press, 2014).