(Dear Blog Fam, this is incomplete…I welcome your feedback on further direction)
You’ve been on my mind a lot in the last week
I’ve been having a great time in your city
Or so it seems to the outside world
This is one of the cities you loved
I feel like dancing one minute, then
All of a sudden you are on my mind
And I catch the sobs welling up in my throat
As I’ve reconnected with folks
Most have asked
How it all happened
I’ve narrated it all over and over again
Like a reporter
Tried to ignore the emotion behind it
My Ghanaianisms peeking through
“It was such a tragedy!”
Sometimes it seems there is a voice-over
I smile when they express condolences
My face belying the pain
That haunts my dreams
You are buried here
I can’t stop thinking about that
It’s like you are here
You are all around me
I see tall Black men with goatees
Lanky and strutting with confidence
Sometimes I do a double-take
Before I remember
It’s not that you left Ghana
It’s not that you broke up with me
You left the physical bubble
Us humans think we occupy alone
You exited this relationship before we had our first spat
Recently I read somewhere
Some love is a black hole
It sucks you in
The two exist oblivious to everyone/thing else
For a long time I remained in this black hole
After a while I knew I wasn’t going to find you
But I didn’t want to face the world alone
I came out…eventually
To lots of love and hugs
Slowly…the void became filled up
With my usual busy schedule
But being in your city
The place where your physical body rests
Toys with this void that has now filled up
It doesn’t make me feel guilty for moving on
After all the planning we did for our summer in NY
I am living it without you
Physically at least
I keep feeling that in a sense, you called me here
To fulfill a part of our summer plansRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Last night I saw you
After 8 days of not seeing you
8 days of wanting to run almost every day
Last night when I saw you
I couldn’t wait to kiss you
Last night when I kissed you nothing else mattered
I realized that running away would have been foolishRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
This piece was published on Africa Speaks 4 Africa this weekend:
Please click the link to read it. After you read, browse the site!
Thanks for visiting, following, and commenting. You all are the reason I write.
KkRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
“Nyame mpa ngu na Jesu moga impipa!”
She utters these words as if she had been asked to exorcise a demon spontaneously.
“God forbid! And Jesus’ blood wash away!” She prays again.
She was visiting. A distant cousin by marriage; her words really shouldn’t have made such an impact. But because they were indicative of quite a broad cross-section of the Ghanaian population, they hit home. She was convinced mine was a scenario that required exorcism and she was the right woman for the job.
The scenario: I was sitting in between my cousin’s legs getting my hair oiled and twisted (let’s deal with the connotations of this later) when she asked which boy I was dating now. I was famous for having quite a slew usually to divert attention from the real issue. We were all a little tipsy from my cousin’s bachelorette party.
“I’m just not into boys as much,” I said before I realized it. I was exhausted from making up fairytales for my favorite cousin.
“Her you dis gel! Are you letting girls stick their fingers into you? Or are you sucking on vaginas?” These two questions sounded worse because they were said in the crudest way using specific words in our Ghanaian language that were usually reserved for potty mouths, or so we were taught. My cousin, whom I had revered and idolized since boarding school, was far from a potty mouth.
I winced, and instead of responding, said: “Sshhh, the kids will hear you.”
I blushed deeply as I pointed towards my niece and twin-nephews. Thankfully my skin only warmed to my touch; it didn’t change color (here’s to chocolate skin!) I smiled at my niece and her brothers as they instinctively looked my way.
The conversation was halted for now.
Later in the evening when my cousin caught me by myself she said: “Who is it? Who has done this to you? Tell me!”
“Nobody. People don’t just turn gay or lesbian, you know!” I mustered a tight smile as I began the arduous journey of justifying my orientation. As if coming out was not torture enough, everyone felt it their duty to interrogate you to make sure you hadn’t made a mistake.
“Are having fingers inside of me somehow worse than having a penis inside? I was emboldened by the wistful look on her face. “If it’s promiscuity you are worried about let’s talk about that.”
“California turned you gay! I knew it! That’s what people do over there in San Francisco.”
In the last four years of living in the Bay area, I had learned not to respond to this one.
The reality is that those in denial need something to hang their hats on. Who caused this? Who did something wrong along the way? They seem to need an explanation that will make it all better. The first, and my favorite, is the excuse of my abuse. The second, my absentee father, God rest his poor soul! The third, my independent streak. The fourth, too much education.
When my rebuttals to these four fail to appease them, they ask the quintessential question: “Does your Mama know?” Then they go down the list of elders who should be informed. I nod with each one. Yes, they all know already. Then they get mad that they are the last one to be informed.
“Well, how did your Mama react when you told her?” Favorite cousin asks me.
“Oh Ma, she was very supportive of me and has been ever since.”
The incredulous look on her face says it all. She doesn’t think this is possible.
“Ok. How long have you known?” As if the number of years I’ve been out makes me more valid as queer. If it’s too short a time, then it’s a phase. If it’s a long time, then they want a list of people to go blame for this.
“You’ll find the right man, soon. I’m sure of it!” She gives me a squeeze.
I smile tightly knowing I’ve lost another one. I have become invisible yet again.
I entangle myself from her squeeze and climb the stairs to my guestroom.
Sometimes I think I didn’t cry enough/I should have put my arms around you/covered myself in your draining life-blood/screamed for help/caused a ruckus/told the world you were/mine/you were hurt
I think I didn’t do/what a proper girlfriend/would have done/I should have held/your body one more time/cradled your head in my lap/like the last night we were together/blissfully chatting
I was stoic/without meaning to be/standing there transfixed/the shock and confusion/too much to comprehend/my physical body/rendered incapable/of much else
I set about arranging/your long lean legs/which kept the car door/from shutting/removing your satchel/a quick scan of it/I-pad gone; touch-phone gone; side pockets devoid of cash/an indictment on the onlookers
ER personnel stating/yours was a hopeless case/sick of their incompetence/the ineffectiveness of the system/my stoic voice/told them off/demanded they the attending physician/he confirmed my suspicion/you couldn’t be saved
Afraid to look at the face/I often held between my hands/I braced myself/a stolen glance/confirmed/it wasn’t a pleasant sight/to linger on/in case it left an imprint
Paparazzi gathered around/took cell phone pics/attending physician shooed them away/I wanted to punch someone/I stole another glance/to ascertain it was you/that glance left that imprint/I was worried about
I set about removing/that checkered scarf you never left home without/soaked red/the shoes you loved/clinging to your feet/but those argyle socks you wouldn’t go without/(even in 90 degree weather)/peeled right off
I took your things/ER personnel wanted me to dispose of your scarf/I squeezed it tight/they wheeled you away/still I didn’t scream/or throw myself on your body/still stood transfixed/wishing it was a bad dream
I made the first call to mom/she was hysterical/I gave calm instructions/how to reach your family/the reality of an unknown relationship/finally setting in/who to contact/what to say
Out of my hands/Third persons inform me/plans to move you/memorial planned/fundraising started/your body moved/me left with no lifeline/previous tenuous lines of communication/snipped cold/pain and confusion/anger and sadness/at lack of acknowledgment/thanks were due to a line of first responders/I make excuses for your family/I thank first responders on their behalf
I wake sometimes/calling to thank/the good Samaritans/who cradled you/drove you in search of an ER/who probably needed a new backseat/to remove the reminder/of your life-blood
I wake often/verbally thanking/my cousin/who accompanied me/prepared you in the morgue/because my third glance at your face/told me/I wouldn’t be much help
I wake these days/Wondering if grief/has a timeline/is different/when you’ve only known someone/for a short time/if grief runs on schedule/if you try to forget
Today two months later/this bad dream/is still real/the imprint finally fading/the reality that text messages have stopped/forever/some nights I lie/relishing the old ones/wondering where you were buried/if the live streaming was archived/if closure comes/how and when it comes/when society says to move on/what to do to move on/show I’ve moved on
I lie knowing you are real/now as then/always will be/mine/theirs/ours/now a guardian/of us allRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
We are not broken up/you are not dead/yet my tears just refuse to/stop flowing
Every little thing/reminds me of you/I can’t play Meshell today/didn’t want to hear Lauren or Tracy yesterday
I make rice and notice/I only have to make one serving/I wrangle up a new batch of tears/while measuring/I see the last bowl you used for cereal before you left/you are not here to fight with over whose turn it is to do dishes or sweep the floor or fold laundry or….
I guess I wasn’t ready/for this day/never thought it would be quite this way/it bothers me/that I am crying this hard given/how fiercely we fought
A part of me feels silly/for crying this much knowing it’s not over/or is it
I’ve resisted going online/stalking your page/waiting for tweets/I’m left with status updates
I must say that at 35/this is one thing I thought I’d figured out/Meet ‘em. Love ‘em. Bang ‘em. Thank ‘em. Leave ‘em/but somehow you made me go somewhere new/now I can’t go back
Today Gospel is the only music/I can listen to/that’s the one genre we didn’t share/but even they/keep telling me I’ll make it through/I already know this/I don’t want to hear it today
Your frame/plopped on the couch/hunched over your laptop/is now just an image in my head/the back of your head/no longer bobs/to music/as you sit at your desk
All I keep thinking is/I gotta move soon/I can’t sit here/crying all day/but for now…I doRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
I lie on my bed/legs up in the air/bent at the knees/feet moving in syncopated rhythm/toes wiggling/waiting for your text/wondering if the silence means/sleep has claimed you early
I am a school girl/all over again/I giggle often/laugh uncontrollably/blush at the slightest mention/of our relationship/I am/full of life
I smile with every text that comes through knowing I am on your mind/I speak my mind/you speak yours/somehow we can stand each other/for now at leastRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
It’s been 5 weeks to the hour
Most Mondays I feel
Lethargic all day
Headaches and body aches
I can’t explain
I can’t sleep most Mondays
Because I don’t want to
Wake to that fateful call
I don’t want to come collect your
Limp body from the third hospital
That did not have a bed
To begin the emergency care
That you so desperately needed
I don’t want to wrest shoes
Then socks then…
From your body
I still stalk your page
To see who else has just
Discovered your death
Who else is full of grief
And needs to share
Or say what a wonderful
Man you were
Your name used to stare
At me from my chat list
Every day for weeks
One day I signed in and you
You had been idle too long
I freaked out because
I thought it meant family
Had deleted your page
You were still there
I want to download
You put up
I want to keep you close
On Saturday, I went to
A Ghanaian funeral
I thought of you throughout
Wondered how your service had been
How sad I was to find out that
Your family had streamed it
Wondered where you have been buried
And if I can come visit you
When next I come to New York
I thought of you at the graveside
Wondering how your mother felt
As the soil was thrown on your casket
As I stood watching the soil thrown
On my uncle’s casket
I wished I had been present for your funeral
I missed you so deeply
I had to walk out of sight of the grave
As the burial concluded and we walked away
I looked for a sign that
You knew I was thinking of you
And wouldn’t you know it
There was an empty packet of
That Monday when we had dinner
You had confessed that you were stressed
And that you had started the morning
with a Striker or two or…
I didn’t want to hear the rest of the count
So in the graveyard as I was walking
Towards the gate
I looked down and saw you
Smiling at me
I knew that you knew that
I was missing you
I’ve not written much lately
Well not much I want to share that is
Choosing instead to
Focus on my job search
My upcoming readings
Yet my journal pages overflow with my pain
Anger and frustration at a system
That does not work
For the average Ghanaian
Which is what you and I were
This f*cked up system that
Allowed you to die
In the back seat of a good Samaritan’s car
Today 5 weeks to the hour
Two weeks after
Your dust hit God’s dust
I sit tapping away
With a renewed vigor
Similar to that which you
Often gave me
You must write love
I am writing love
I miss you
The ache goes and comes
Seeking refuge in my body
When it wills
I think of all everyone has said
It will be a long time
Before you don’t breathe with him
Sometimes I hope this long time
Sometimes I am scared
I’ll forget before it’s
The end of that long time
I worry that I’ll forget
That once I breathed
In unison with a person
Who made me feel
So alive and open
To all the world’s possibilities
I pray that I have the
Support I need to trek this
Mountain of grief
And to live out loud as you did
And love boldly again
With arms open wider than possible
Uninhibited as you taught me
You ask me to sit awhile with you. Instead I open your windows; talk about the rustling plantain tree leaves; about doing your laundry; ask what you would like to eat for dinner. All the while, still standing.
I don’t know how to sit with you. I sat rubbing your legs that one evening when you had that severe gas bubble that wouldn’t let go. But before that and after that our skins have not greeted each other. I don’t know how to interact when you are not angry at me, gossiping about me to strangers and neighbors, or complaining bitterly about my ashawo lifestyle. Do I have amnesia or is it true that you didn’t care for me tenderly so I don’t know how to do so for you?
I’ve been given bear hugs by my American family and friends and wicked hugs and squeezes by my aunts that leave me playfully squirming and squealing for rescue. But from you…nothing!
You hold out both arms the minute I come near you. Not to embrace me, mind you. Even on that very first day when I arrive after living abroad. It could be 5 years since you saw me and you would still hold me at arm’s length, sideways, so any attempt at hugging would result in a shoulder pat at best. You didn’t teach me how to hug or embrace, to forgive mistakes, to encourage and cheer on, to celebrate and acknowledge success, to be tender. I’m my own biggest critic and stumbling block because you made me think it was the only way to exist.
A-s and B+s were met with a “Good-Keep-it-up!” or a “Good-Do-better-next-time!” Not squeezes and squealing that I had survived yet another rigorous semester. Not a “let’s-go-celebrate-right-now!” Perhaps the latter was due to the tight reigns you had to keep on the finances, but I’m sure if you wanted, you could have finagled something. New discoveries were not met with an equal sense of awe and delight when I shared them.
My physical memory fails me at times so I have no proof that you didn’tD care tenderly for me. What I have is my body memory over the years which, like silt, has become like sediment; this is all I have to go by.
You give hugs, make room for bisous on the cheek, administer kisses on the back of white hands, give warm and enthusiastic ‘good mornings’ to the friends I have brought to visit Ghana. You ask fondly about high school friends you “approved” of. You tell those I bring home, “I love and Bless you!” To me, you say “ayeekoo” when it suits you. You don’t apologize for disliking some of my friends even as you embrace others. You don’t ask after my painful moments; you just assume life goes on so I should too, and fast.
The disdain for the me I have become/the me I am becoming, is palpable. You suck your teeth, roll your eyes and say, “tso! What would you go and do that for?” when I ask you gently to please stop referring to me as Melody Ann. You say in sadness, “Such a beautiful name…and the Ann, I added it so you would have a saint name…now why would you go and change that?” I leave the room unable to assert my choice to return to my Ghanaian name.
You demand I excise the locs that have “attached” themselves to my head. You protest, “ you’ve ruined your hair! They are unsightly. Only mentally insane people, those Rastafarian ruffians, and wee smokers keep dreadlocks.” They are a disgrace to you. The family. I cut them with the scissors you angrily hand to me. You watch satisfied that you can whip me into shape once again. I save the locs for years. I cry so hard I get hiccups.
I start locs again in defiance. I cut them again after visiting you. I cut them myself this time because I can’t love them into complete existence. Somehow at 3o I still seek your approval.
I wonder is this how you were raised. Was your mother anything like you? Are you just living up to her expectations of you? Is this the only way you know how to be in relation? I wonder why? What happened to you to make you turn out this way?
Are you able to be different? How can you be tender to a foreigner and not to your own blood?
I guess you practice tenderness with them because that’s only for a short time and me, well me…im forever yours. Kinky and nappy-haired, black in all the places that matter, defiant, and strong-headed. Me? Yes, Me…I am yours forever because sadly, we are blood.
Do you have it in you to do forever? This kinky-hair-loving, bright-colored-African-dress-wearing, bold-assertive-chocolate-skinned-woman is here to stay. Claim me or not, this new me is forever.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 10 so far )
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