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)

Published by Sunshine

Sunny Scape is a safe space for Black women and queer folks. I am committed to eradicating intersecting systems of oppression that overwhelmingly affect people like myself, and doing so in a way that centers the most marginalized of us. That means that I am an activist on behalf of Black and brown queer and trans folks, children, sex workers, disabled folks, people of low socioeconomic status, currently and formerly imprisoned people, and countless others who are pushed to the back burners and relegated to second-class citizenship. This blog and everything within it is absolutely inseparable from the liberation efforts of all the aforementioned groups of people.

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