I sit in my living room,
My legs folded beneath me
A blanket wrapped around my shoulders
Hundreds of books on the walls,
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
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
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
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
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
© Ama Akoto (2017)