Issue February 7, 2006

Poetry – Honorable Mention

Poetry – honorable mention 1
Another Weekend in Peki Ghana
by Kate Hartman

 

It begins on Friday afternoon.

Young men, in red and black, already intoxicated,

Head to the hospital in the back of the truck.

The rules are posted outside the clinic —

Only family members can claim a body,

And only for a few hours in the afternoon.

 

By evening, family and friends have gathered,

The compound full of people and noise and speakers —

The music has begun, elegies by Bob Marley and Lucky Dube,

Highlife and reggae shaking the air.

Mourners bring gin, to pour libations on the ground,

And speak of spells and how it happened.

In the courtyard, the young men sing and drink,

While the churchwomen gather to prepare meals,

And note the sounds of the room inside

Where the weeping has begun.

 

Saturday begins with more cruising around town,

More pickups and tro-tros, more drunk young men.

They are calling for the townspeople to come, to see,

To walk into the weeping room and look —

The woman in her wedding dress of 18 years ago

And kente and beads of enormous value,

Laying still in the wooden box as the women sob and shout —

She must be sent well to be received on the other side.

 

The plastic chairs and overhead tarp are set up outside —

It’s a true Ghanaian event.

We take our seats, purchase a program (this is a fundraiser, too);

We may wait an hour for the main event:

Hours of singing, talking, offerings —

An amalgam of Christian rites and ancient tradition —

We pray for the ancestors to welcome her home.

 

After, cars and trucks get loaded up again, somber this time,

As we travel to the edge of town.

A rare place, cool, shady, ironically fertile —

Trees and vines grow around-over-through the stones,

With names and dates from not so long ago.

A final prayer, and then finally those young men

Have something more to do, to fill that deep hole.

Poetry – honorable mention 2
Scent
by Caroline Ennis

 

he invited me in, still

 

exactly the way i had left him in my head,

a faint ellipses trailing out before him

to match the parentheses I’d picketed

around my heart

my stomach in brackets.

 

he smelled like sleep,

the trace work lines around his face

a question mark

 

i excused myself briefly

from his downcast, comma eyes,

 

and in his bathroom —

a pile of clothes on the floor,

sleeves curled like ampersands of       

cast-off days

that i had not touched his skin,

the air dark with the musk of his soap,

his cologne hanging dimly, like a watermark.

 

i glanced over my shoulder

at the mottled plaster on the wall, and

 

held a crumpled shirt to my face,

breathing deeply,

until every nerve ending had its fill of

the syntax

of assent.