restricted access the crazy lady
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the crazy lady

the neighborhood kids would always laugh   when my mother turned her stereo up high,     blasting gospel music for everybody on our street.

they laughed harder whenever they’d hear her praying;   sometimes in quoted scripture, and sometimes     in a frenzied language nobody could understand.

but even then I knew the world was strange—stranger   than my mother ever was. some winter nights     at dinnertime, these children would come knocking

from bare houses, small faces pinched with hunger.   my mama didn’t sing then, but stirred warm pots on the stove     while they waited, tongues grown thick in their faithless mouths. [End Page 277]

Destiny O. Birdsong

Destiny O. Birdsong is a poet and essayist whose poems have either appeared or are forthcoming in At Length, Little Patuxent Review, Potomac Review, Rattle, and elsewhere. Her critical work recently appeared in African American Review, and a coauthored chapter on Black Atlantic and diasporic literature (with Ifeoma C. K. Nwankwo) is forthcoming in The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature. She is a lecturer and academic advisor at Vanderbilt University, where she earned her MFA in 2009 and her Ph.D. in 2012.