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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)

#growth #lessons #lovepoem #mother

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