ABENA AMOAH

SELF-PORTRAIT

" I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best. "
- Frida Kahlo

Art collage by Keren Lasme


You are such as unfinished being,
restless.
You of little faith with a prayer waiting on the corners of your mouth.
You beggar of love
with fingers tracing lovers' trail on your lips, arms, waist, back, and thighs.
You conflicted being.
Overthinking,
worrying
unbalanced,
never landing.
Sitting too long,
moving too fast.
You of questions and answers
and
questions
questions
questions.
You silence them with food and escape in your books.
You sensitive, aching being.
Lately, the tightness in your chest does not leave when you drown your thoughts in music.
Won't someone come and save you from yourself?
Running from yourself.
Running out of places to call home.
You can't rest within yourself.
You forgetful being
with a clear vision of people and things that have burned you.
You gatherer of names,
you sit them in your mouth, refusing to release them.
You hold your name shakily on your tongue.
You can't forgive yourself.
Oh, you are such an unfinished being,
restless.

I am tired of facing most days with a cutlass in hand.

I lay to rest the dead words of my lips.
The aching heart that yearns for love and afraid to trust.
The unhealed mind holding back the body from reaching its climax.
Conversations with death.
The nightmares of waking in a coffin deep in the earth
deafening screams begging to be let out.
I am alive! I am undone!
The spine backing into a corner by a voice saying
it is not enough
you are not enough.

A spirit afraid of its reflection
of darkness and light.
It's blinding
and exhausting.
I house many women in me and I feel some have to die.
Someone tell me how to bury pieces of yourself and still remain whole.
What do I do with days when the broken and unnurtured part of my being is what breathes into me a will to live?
What do I do with the days that tell me I have to hold on to this pain
this sadness
numbness
because,
because I am feeling.
I am here, alive
feeling.
I will not savor the days that taste of decadent joy
if I did not hold the bitter after taste of my past in my mouth.
A taste I just can't get off my tongue
even on days that I dip it in honey.
Like a friend of mine, the moon,
it's always there.
But I love the moon.
I like the moon.
I don't like depression.
Mine does not sneak up on me.
It locks eyes with me, waiting for me to make a move.
I lay back
too tired to fight.
I know how this ends.
Days and weeks of falling and falling.
Up at night
watching the moon out my window.
Maybe I can't let go because it always ends with the moon.
Her beauty intensifies when I am falling.
But really,
someone tell me what to do with all the women in me.

A beautiful mouthpiece
humming memories in different melodies.
The heaviness always finds its way into the song.
And am I not all of this?
A beautiful mind with a heavy heart.

If the world is ending,
give me poetry.
Music.
A lover's kisses on my back,
appearing as a smile on my face.
The moon.
The ocean.
My tongue licking mango juice off my right fingers while
my left-hand turns the page of a book.
The laughter of children.
Give me my grandmother's prayer,
the softness of her palm.
A flower blossoming.
A new leaf on a plant.
Give me the sun shining on my mother's face.
Let me reach out and touch her,
embrace her until I return to the womb,
or give birth to her in another lifetime.
If the world is ending,
give me back home
barefoot with feet dirtied with sand.

Have you ever heard the laughter of your God?
On a quiet night with my eyes closed,
I tried to imagine my life years ahead, and I could not see.
I opened my eyes and quietly said to myself,
maybe death comes for me early and at that moment,
I heard the laughter of my God
and the words:
You! You who have cheated death twice
one from your own hands.
You are reborn with every breath
.

Indeed I have shed dead skin.
Do you not see how I glisten?
The fullness of my cheeks?
Some days I laugh like the sun is inside my mouth.
I am growing joy in between my teeth.
I am a mother rebirthing a 6-year-old spirit.
Do you not see how my hips have widened?
How freely they move
with my hands slapping my thighs singing ¡Soy libre! Soy libre!
Do you not see how protective I am of my space,
of this little girl inside me.
The pain of losing her over and over again was unbearable.
The disappointment as her fingers clutches my insides,
making me forget to breathe.
Life has left me numerous times.
But I tell you this,
I am a fertile land.
Though my origins were barren
and drought and famine were passed down for two generations,
there is a deep well within me.
A harvest of love overflows in me.
I, an unfinished being
not knowing my conception, but just that I was.
I am my mother's daughter.
Born on a Tuesday in water,
I am boundless.
Eternally my spirit lives.
My first name is life itself.
I died and was risen.
My third name means "Mother Messenger."
My God has placed in me my own savior; I no longer look to man.
My fourth name means, "It took a while."
It is inscribed under my feet to take the long journey.
My spine is weaved with strength.
My tongue, sharpened with hymns and poetry as prayers to break curses.
I am the one I have been waiting for.
I stand,
The prophecy.
The ritual.
The incantation
The miracle.
The awakening.
It is an insult to my God to forget who I am.
To run from my spirit.
A spirit does not die.
No, our spirit does not die.
Have you ever heard the laughter of your God?

My mother once told me, life is like getting on an empty bus with the driver unseen. The driver comes to a stop at which you have to get off the bus. You can't say that you won't get off because you're not at your stop or that it's raining outside. I thought to myself, I like the rain and prayed my spirit will be lighter when my stop comes.

To you reading this, I send you all the good days in me. If you find yourself among these words, may the healing be revolutionary.

June 1, 2020


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