These Books

I sit in my living room, My legs folded beneath me A blanket wrapped around my shoulders Hundreds of books on the walls, And I wonder how much of my mother Rests between the pages she’s turned And the ones she’s filled with her own sorrows and triumphs

Could I read about the girl she was Before she lost herself to my father Or who she became after the vacuum of re-Afrikanization swallowed her whole All the things I don’t know about my mother

Is she happy? Does she love herself? Would I find the answers to these questions On her bookshelves? Hidden between the near 100 plants in Our living room Which has more windows than living room

To what made up land does she escape when she sneaks a Newport? What author makes her lips quiver, her eyes water, and her chest hot? How many words have been whispered in her ears Dropped on her body Hammered into her eyes

Are there ones from 1981 When she turned 17 What of the ones from 1990 When she first found motherhood Then lost it? If my mother’s library could speak Would it sing, shout, laugh, cry, encourage, Berate or love? Would it know my name While it wrote and rewrote hers?

In her journals, cookbooks, sketch pads, and piles of loose paper Does my future lay written Only for me to discover And understand in moments of reflection

How many of these countless pages Are tear stained Dog eared And smell of her?

If ever I were to forget my mother, In which book lies the map That will lead me to her? What authors taught her kindness, service, vulnerability, forgiveness And an eternity of love

How much have they learned from her These books And authors Essayists and poets Certainly not as much as I have

I have time And words to write pages and books About my mother To tell her I love her To make her believe in herself Take care of herself Most difficulty, to love herself

Time and words To serenade my mother With things scribbled

Written Broken and Pieced back together How many must I write?

Needing to remember my mother’s name, Her legacy and voice— I will cover every wall in our home Every crack in the street Every blue/black/purple/orange of the sky With my words Her words Poe’s King’s Dumas’

We will live As we always have Swimming in these books Met at every turn with prose To prompt more questions about our lovely mothers

How much of her has sat around me my whole life Simply waiting to be discovered Admired Cherished Revered And loved

Eternally loved?

© Ama Akoto (2017)

#books #history #mother

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