This is a “Weekly Spotlight” feature piece

I’m watching my mother
From my low
Stoop/ a substantial woman
In body and mind
Gliding through
The cluttered
Space of our room
Around my grandmother’s yellow arm chair,
A hamper stuffed with clothes
And both our desks
Littered with papers—stories she was
Teaching me to write in
A voice she was urging me
To use/
Things she couldn’t learn me by doing them herself—
Staunchly relegated to
The cramped
Four walls of our world
Behind ironing boards and old dressers
Relics of family we lost touch
With                    Nanas and PopPops gone too soon/ before
Someone could share stories
Of my mother
When she was this age
Learning the way to hold
Her body so that it isn’t
Torn on the close-by thorns
Of captivity and isolation
I watch her dance a little
To music played
At a very specific volume so as not to
Disrupt/ upend/ rebel too obviously
Against the order of things—of betrothed
Her body is easing through
Our lives so filled
With apathetic husbands slash fathers
Step sister-wives                    all of them—
Crumbling fences planted in
Dry earth
rotting away
A un-bloomed plant
From underneath its foundation, whittling
I am surprised that her feet
Have not stomped craters
Into this ugly patch of dirt
Beneath our hearth
Amazing how she continuously
Extends her hands to everyone—
In this swollen city compound/ in this cold, relentless world—
Offering that which it needs/ some of what it wants/ nothing it could ever deserve
I hear the floor creak beneath the weight
Of her
Of us and our things
Our photographs and watercolor art
The Karaoke machine I begged for
And the French CDs she insisted upon
My homemade tapes
Songs I wrote and belted out
In a corner of the room
Near our bookshelf
Lined top to bottom
With revolution and romance
Poetry/ wanting to sound like her
Sing how she did when it was just us
Safe in our
Full range of being
From my seat
A young girl/
She is a mountain to me
A grand hill
Pushing silently through vinelands

—                                       To teach us they need not speak

© Ama Akoto (2018)


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