ELEGY WITH GROWN FOLKS’ MUSIC

“I Wanna Be Your Lover” comes on the kitchen radio
and briefly, your mother isn’t your mother—
just like, if the falsetto is just right, a black man in black
lace panties isn’t a faggot, but a prince,
a prodigy—and the woman with your hometown
between her legs shimmies past the eviction notice
burning on the counter and her body moves like she never
even birthed you. The voice on the radio pleas,
“I wanna be the only one that makes you come
running.” Some songs take women places men cannot
follow. Spinning, she looks at but doesn’t see you,
spinning, she sings lyrics too fast for you to pursue,
spinning, she don’t have time for questions like:
What is this nasty song and where did she learn
to dance like that and why, and who is this high-pitched
bitch of a man who can sing like a woman and turn
your mother not into your mother but a woman,
not even a woman, but a box-braided black girl, a fast
girl, a chick, a Vanity 6, and how far away she is from you
right here in the same living room, dancing
with the song’s hook in her throat. And you hate
the voice coming through the radio because another
sissy has snatched your dreams and run off with them
and because you’re young and don’t know the difference
between abandoned and alone just like your mother’s
heart won’t know the difference between beat
and attack. She will be dead in a decade and maybe
you already know what you’re losing without knowing
how, but you’re just a boy for now and your mother
is just a woman, just a girl, body swaying, fingers
snapping and snakes in her blood.
saeed jones

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