Two Poems by Faith Arkorful

long island medium

My mother and I unite under our common
desire for a second coming. Not of god,
but of those who survived. My family likes
to die fast. We found our kin on the ocean
floor and daytime reruns.

One woman tells another that her loved
one is a spirit and does not want her to feel
pain. I wonder what it’s like to yearn.

My great-grandmother lived to be one-hundred
solid years and on the day of her centennial
walked into the fig orchard and didn’t come back.

I have no answers. The moon moves around us
and us aroundthe sun. Every breath a plant
makes is an act of forgiveness. Winter is a
chore and a punishment.  I glance into these
small honesties. I dip my fingers through the seams.

I know there are the things that will never
be found. The current truths of the earth
have carved a hull into my back. My mother
has ocular melanocytosis and in these spots
she keeps her spirits trapped. They stay silent as
we watch. The widow on the screen shakes.
Perhaps she is contemplating leaving her body.

My mother is not easily impressed.
She asks What else could the spirits say?
That I wish you go dead so you could come
and meet me? I laugh. We stop watching.
I wonder if grief is anything more than just that.

a watercolour painting of a house on hill, and an abandoned shoe in the foreground
image by Kayza DeGraff-Ford

no different

I tried to explain the story and you said that if the
police don’t provide a reason for the stop then they have
done something illegal. You are telling me this means
I am allowed to walk away. I am trying to explain that
I have never seen a police officer struggle to find a reason.
My father’s head sinks into himself repeating the words
that come before he’s flung into the earth. His golden hum
cannot mend them. The words of a beast are splintered.
Where are you going. I am not finished talking to you.
Buddy, where do you think you are going. A man is resting
all his weight on his gun and you are wondering what he
means by finish. I am touching the gash in my father’s
forehead. A ripe and open ackee. I will touch a man’s hands
while waiting for the bus and he will tell me his friend was killed.
I will not say Oh really. I will say I know.
Listen, it’s hard to walk away with your head busted.
It’s hard to be swinging inside this prolonged episode of survival.
Empire suffocates itself. You are telling me something about
apples. About fruit rotting amongst the bunches. You are telling me
this like you are the first person to tell me it. I tried to explain that
they called him buddy before they beat him. The casual friendliness
of a forward facing beatdown. You think I am lying. Possibly
over-exaggerating. That nothing like that happens up here.
Heavenly body, they love to punish you just as much as they
love to watch. We are gathered here today to tell you a truth.
Our country hates me but won’t say it aloud. Our country will
call you friend with a foot on my neck. Our country holds my head
under the water. Our country is no different. You’ve heard it all.
I have told you I am not speaking about the weather.        
I hear your country is nice. I hear that the people are real polite.