Maggie Nye
Mourning with Strangers

Maggie Nye - Mourning with Strangers

Creative Nonfiction
Born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Maggie Nye is a current MFA candidate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.… Read more »
Tamie Parker Song
Picking Raspberries

Tamie Parker Song - Picking Raspberries

Creative Nonfiction
Tamie Parker Song lives and writes in Sitka, Alaska. Other essays of hers can be found in Connotations, Cirque Journal,… Read more »
Paul Crenshaw
What We Say

Paul Crenshaw - What We Say

Creative Nonfiction
Paul Crenshaw’s stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Essays, anthologies by W.W. Norton and Houghton… Read more »

Mourning with Strangers

Maggie Nye

On our second trip to New Orleans, my mother and I sat with a stranger at the covered bus stop on St. Claude at Poland Avenue. She was an older black woman, worn-out looking but tidy in her appearance. A dark floor-length skirt and her grey-streaked hair pulled tight and tucked away. My mother later called her dress conservative. It was her teeth, she said, that made her look old. Her mouth was caved-in. I don’t remember her mouth particularly, but my mother is careful always to note the qualities that make a woman look old. I do remember thinking I ought to give the woman my seat and that she accepted it. My mother and I were riding a bus to the streetcar that would take us to the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and we were mourning. When we are together, no matter what we are doing, we are mourning, always and evenly as breathing.

~

Without knowing it, we picked New Orleans to be the center of our mourning. Historical places are good for that—they let you nestle your small sadness inside their larger sadness, grief consecrated with plaques and statues. How many… Read more »