Andy Young

Micro Lit Contest - 3rd Place

Andy Young’s second full-length collection, Museum of the Soon Departed, was chosen for the inaugural Patricia Spears Jones Award and will be published by Camperdown NYC. She is also the author of All Night It Is Morning (Diálogos Press, 2014) and four chapbooks. She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and teaches at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Her work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in such journals as The Southern Review, Pank, and The Journal of the American Medical Association. Her translations from the Arabic, with Khaled Hegazzi, were included in the Norton anthology Language for a New Century. Her work has also been featured in jewelry, visual art, and contemporary and flamenco dance productions.


We Bury My Mother a Second Time

Mary on one side in broken blue glass. Joseph on the other in umber and brown. Saint Gabriel explaining to a very young Mary what will happen. Don’t be afraid, says Saint Gabriel.

Both of my brothers’ wide necks in the pew in front of me. At the end of that row, my father, pink-nosed when he takes off the mask at the service’s close. Time doesn’t mean anything to her now, he says. Those of us who didn’t lose it during the shaky “Ave Maria” lose it now. She’s been dead more than a year. Don’t be afraid.

I focus on the comfort of the familiar: the kneeling, the bell-ringing, the Our Father, the peace be with you. Though there is no wine with the host. There is no water to touch to our heads chests left right shoulders.

I had watched her burial on my laptop. The virus had just emerged, and I could not be there. In my screen, my siblings and father sat on separate rows. Off camera, once the body was placed, they drank whiskey from little plastic cups in the parking lot.

We could gather now with a little less caution, the less ill or worried of us even hug. We eat together from the church’s plastic tables loaded with salads and potatoes and pies. We stand around the stone that has just been carved and placed. Don’t be afraid. There’s her name, there’s my father’s name, prewritten. Crosses, a verse: And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God. There is my last name flooding the middle: YOUNG. Don’t be afraid. The priest behind the stone stands there like a back-up singer. He sprinkles water. We murmur hail Mary, full of grace. Wipe our faces. Her absence spreads like a storm across the fields.

I am primarily a poet, but the intensity of poetry coupled with the intensity of the last two traumatic years has sometimes overwhelmed. I began a new practice, inspired by Ross Gay's The Book of Delights, in which I gave myself a limited time and a limited number of words (usually less than a half hour and less than 500 words) to sit down and handwrite something I'd experienced that was hard to face in poetry and in my mind. I did not worry about structure or outcome; I'd go back later and revise. This piece came from one of those sessions.