A Poem Where Every Question is a Parable

How are you Ghanaian when you can’t speak Twi?

What do we call the sky even when it looks exactly
like the sea? I don’t remember the names of a lot of
things. Anything you name becomes your possession.
Sometimes I look in the mirror & forget who I am.
Yes. memory is a joke but what is funny here?

You don’t look Ewe, where are you from?

Is a river any less of a river when it doesn’t flow into
another body of water? Inside another body of water
is a reminder that home is not a place but the arrival.
In my language, when someone says they are going home
they mean blood is going back to blood. Does a name need
to be carried by a body which is its home?

How is your name pronounced?

What are you afraid of? I am always frightened when
I realize my Ewe is too malnourished to survive
outside my mouth. Sometimes I tend to confuse listening
for understanding. Is there any difference between language
& identity? Is the mouth the safest place to hide secrets?

Why aren’t you fluent in Ewe?

Do you think the rain knows when to stop giving
itself to us? As a child, I swallowed too much English.
I have come to believe that whatever is dipped into
a new home becomes born again. Praise the Lord.
What is the difference between faith & hope? Is language
the only way we get to be home even when we aren’t there?

Have you ever been to your hometown?

When does a river know it’s time to return to its
source? I’ve become tired of knocking on the door of
a house where blood can mean stranger & family at
the same time. Lately I have taken to sitting outside
counting the forgotten faces of people that I once
knew. Do you think the sky ever notices that today
is a new day, different from yesterday & tomorrow?

Jay Kophy is a Ghanaian poet and writer. His poems are forthcoming and have been featured in literary magazines such as Glass Poetry, Shore Poetry, Kalahari Review, Hellebore, Tampered Press and many others. He is the winner of the inaugural Samira Bawumia Literature Prize in poetry. He’s also curator of anthologies “to grow in two bodies” and “How to Write My Country’s Name”. You can find him on Twitter @jay_kophy.

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