In My Mother’s Kitchen

laughter barrels,
countertop full of red onions
that make only my eyes water.

My aunt, dancing through the steam of boiling pots,
says to me, “Nana, date who you want, marriage will come
when it comes,” my mother’s voice echoing closely behind
as if to soothe.

They begin to spin a story of when they were my age,
white tanks pulled tightly across their midriffs,
riding shotgun in a London boy’s suzuki through Taifa,
boubous floating in the sunset like hovering clouds.

All the girls followed Lumba to Luciano Nightclub
when Aben Wo Ha dropped, he was the prettiest thing,
glistening in the night lights like the moon
everyone wanted.

My mother swigs wine and cackles,
her body breaking into a shuffle
here is how we remember,
the kitchen now a stage of memories only
they can see with their searching eyes.

And this isn’t a story
about how men love or
who they leave,
but one about women, what they borrow
a man, a dress, a tank top, a car,
a faint memory of dancing bodies, and what they survive.

What love must have felt like in the dense midnight air,
the coo of a song fading and the echo of women singing along

Claudia Owusu is a Ghana girl through and through. As a writer and filmmaker, her work divulges the nuance of Black girlhood through a personal and collective lens. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Indianapolis Review, Vogue, Narrative Northwest, Akoroko, and Brittle Paper. Her films have screened internationally at Aesthetica, the New York African Film Festival, Urbanworld, and Blackstar Fest. She was shortlisted for the 2023 Bernadine Evaristo Prize in African Poetry; and she is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at The Ohio State University.

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