Thirty-One Weeks

Some stories will teach you
to keep moving, others
to be still. Whatever I tell you,
you’ll keep spinning in place,
giving the midwife fits.

In Accra a decade ago your mother
and I learned about the rain—
the smell, when to run, where
to hide—and despite this
were drenched many times.

Today a storm hit Accra
with such force it flooded
the streets, drew gasoline
up from underground tanks
till a spark lit that shine

and chased the slick line
down to its source
and one hundred people—
huddled together for cover—
died, their bodies charred

and unidentified. Our first time
your mother and I
were playing Frisbee
in a field. We looked out
and all the children

had run. Then the rain
came needling our bones.
The midwife presses
fingers in and says
we still have time,

your head is here,
or maybe here, and either way
there’s time before
they’d have to cut you out.
Move and wait.

Move and wait. The violence
that’s been, and what’s to come.
The beauty of the past and future
touching spines. The double life
you’ll learn to love.

How each takes turns:
one still, the other
spinning restless inside.






First published in Boxcar Poetry Review (Spring 2016).

Read more poems from The News.