i know─ like head,
tongue is listening.
the same way eye remembers
a warm psalm jerking into the fan blades.
this skin’s assailant
hovering about the spirit’s swamp.
the carrion flies
are circling, gnawing deep
into the scarred place.
listening means you are talking
to an empty side-walk
where the tar is searing under your feet.
even now you are larger;
look like something that is not you;
a stranger in blue threadbare blouse,
half green hat, kente slacks &
a bleeding crab coaxed to your knuckles.
Relieving the soul from its winter
is it the ache of 300,000 bodies
icing up your cranium?
to release the soul from its winter
you'll need a tune
gentle as a baby's breath
permeating the body.
6/ you stand in an exit
wider than a window then
shout, shout, shout/
5/ at sunset turn on the stereo
the first music in allegro
to warm up the body/
4/ the last in andante
slowly lulling the body to its innocence
then sing out the strife/
3/ the only remedy to
the soul's leprosy
is more dance. dance, dance, dance/
2/ you'll need the purity of rain
trickling down the olive tree
to cleanse you/
1/ at the waxing of moon
wrap yourself in a sackcloth &
rest, then at sunrise
6/ stand in an exit wider
than a window, with thanksgiving &
praise, praise, praise/
for Cecilia Ama Agyeiwaa
you went out of the gateless house, stumbled
into fangs of the icy fog but I rescue you in an
old photo-frame & clothe you in a cosy poem.
is that your voice clattering against
the swishing bough? i am listening
to the silence in the lessons of journeys
of how leaves wear green caftans in the morning
& at recess, surrender to earth & sunset. i am listening
carefully to the rustle─ it is
just an old wind giving this moment a name. like
how you remember each deluge by colour. how
you keep record for red,
for the brown blotches on your sternum, how
for nights you floundered like a limb pirouetting in flame.
those days i tried to save you but, my
knuckles were numb in your ache─ forgive me
a child is the sizzling breath when a mother is drowning.
i unstitch the shining feather from
the hem of your sepia slit─ forgive me
everything beautiful is taken for the living. i am
sending you away with water, to make you
understand loss is a vase holding abundance
of memory. here’s a skiff.
the eyes for paddle. to the distance.
finding the path
to the slave cemetery
following fresh toads prints
at the crossroads
in dreadful echoes
the sun sneaks home
through the cedar trees
darts into the sea
the slave boy
searches the way home
in the line of rainwater
chorusing in the eventide
i learn to sing
‘‘o great God sees
what the white man does…’’
Gabriel Awuah Mainoo is a Ghanaian creative practitioner & author of 5 books of poetry. Mainoo is the winner of the 2021 Africa Haiku Prize, 2022 Singapore Poetry Prize, 6th Ghana Association of Writers Literary Awards (Poetry), 2022 Samira Bawumia Literature Prize (poetry), 2021 LFP/ RML/ Library of Africa and the African Diaspora chapbook winner among others. He’s a recipient of the 2022 West Africa Writers Residency. Mainoo’s craft can be found in London Reader, Olongo Africa, the other side of hope, Wales Haiku Journal, EVENT, Africa Haiku Journal, Prairie Fire, Best New African Poets Anthologies (2018, 2019, 2020), among others.
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