This is a “Poem of the Day” feature piece

“How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names.”

Alice Walker

Before earth let herself be known as my home,
My mother’s arms were there
To wield me closer to the thrum of her heart
And make me very much a part of her humming,
Her tearful moments, and joyful lifetimes
She was first step and first laugh—
My maker and shaker,
Reaching both hands out behind her
To ensure I could take the leaps and bounds
She could never hope to reach
If nothing becomes of this path
This battered, worn terrain
I’ve seen her walk only the last twenty-two miles of
It will merge seamlessly into my own
Her arms will become a bridge
A legacy of songs sung, beads powdered…
Praying to our ancestors
For my protection
This path will be my talisman
My shrine to identity
Forged by lineages
By roots so deeply entrenched in the earth
They become inseparable from the ground
On which I walk

Before these words became things of expression,
Intense modes of being,
They were our toy things
Trinkets that we passed back and forth
On slips of paper
On slippery tongues
On typewriter, then computer screen
And she was the one
Who planted voice within my chest
Watering me with her ways of being
Her earthly walk
Her plump waist, and need to please
Her undying devotion to others
Despite the dearth of devotion to her
Compassion epitomized itself
In the wrinkles of her palms, the twitch of her lips
The freckled pink flesh of her face
I cannot forget words,
As I would just as soon forget my mother
Forget her things, her trinkets, her legacy
In a world increasingly demanding
That she leaves me with worldly things
My mother gifts me myself and the power to shape her

Before death can claim me
And make peace of this shattering world,
Or I prematurely claim it,
My mother will wrap me in her embrace—
Her skin heavy with the scent of begonias—
And rock me until my heartbeat matches hers
Until my breath is steady, and
My body calm
She was first breath and first sight
Filling my lungs when I could rely on none but her
Clutching my heart and squeezing life
Into me
She will cradle me once more
Revive me when it seems impossible
Touching the part of me
That is so much like her,
It needs her to be alive
To move on
To live and be free

© Ama Akoto (2018)

Artwork by: Sher Nasser

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