The woman perched on her balcony breathing nicotine and talking to the trees was called Lady by people of the town. To spirit-folk, governments, and castaways alike she was simply Lady, for her name and ancestors were unknown, and theirs was a town sorely of names and ancestors. Maidens and surnames were passed around like hugs, stories about their holders shared as frequently and willingly as kisses between lovers. They held weight, told passerbys, who tore her throat to speak life unto a disassembled mess of cells, flesh, and bones. Which body ground her knuckles bare with desperate hope to lay paths ‘pon her descendents to walk. Since Lady had no name—none known to the people—, she had no foremother, no voice, no path. There was never much need to speak to Lady frontly, in fact the common assumption was that she was mute. Her voice box broken and empty, except for the sound of air whistling through burnt up lungs. Her face was nearly always clouded by the swarm of black hair swooping from her scalp, follicles wrapped unto themselves like coils in a vine—a forest of vines. Where the locs parted to make way for her eyes, and mouth, and nose— was shielded by a pair of glasses whose wooden arms framed darkly tinted lenses. She remained behind them an enigma, a nameless cloud of being. Her frame was as elusive as her face, blurred by dark shadows. Some areas dipped, others flattened out then bulged relentlessly—but in all, her body parts were indistinguishable from one another. Despite the mass of her, the palpable weight of her, her feet made bare indents in wet soil and sounds as wispy as breath on tiled floors. Arms seemed to jut out past and through her all at once, mouths feeding hungrily on the space around her shoulders—hunched near her ears—and her stomach—rumbling with angst. None could call to Lady, nor see her, but knew her presence because in the elusivity of her identity—a dark space they made of the complex intertwine of roots and branches within her—they spent their griefs and sorrows. They borrowed chunks of her, never noticing the pieces already missing, for to them her body was but a cloud—a faraway thing that gives and gives, yet never runs dry.
© Ama Akoto (2018)