Afua Ansong is a Ghanaian American teaching artist and scholar, specializing in poetry, contemporary West African Dance and photography. Her research focuses on the representation of African female subjectivities in literature. She has received fellowships from Breadloaf, Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) and Blue Mountain Center (BMC). Her work can be sen in Prairie Schooner, Frontier Poetry, Kalahari Review and her website www.afuansong.com
The Girls with the Issue of Blood
Instead of blood, we crushed grapes into our underwears to show our mothers the color of lust. This wasn’t a miracle a prophet could conjure. We prayed each pumpkin night that our skin wouldn’t itch like yam leaves when our men looked beyond our aches and kissed the soft pebbles behind our ears. Somehow, each morning, we gathered dust for strength, perfumed our throats with the river’s mint breath and returned to the crowd. We hummed for a savior, danced, we’re dirty, unclean, and stretched our sullied hands to stain the white sky.
I am born twice: first in retrospect and second
into the arms of defiance. Mother’s blood soils
a dirty Accra hospital. I don’t delay in her womb
drinking the strength of her abdomen. Father
returns from London and stays. He watches me grow
into a full tree of Kwahu girl. I don’t grow pimples
that etch holes in my face. The smoke from the rain
cools the air. Mother returns from London with a black
suitcase full of pounds. Mother stays. I beg you mother
to stay. Don’t complicate this myth of a woman leaving
to bring her children gold. I don’t discover that pickling
trouble is like exchanging sweet for salty. We delight
in the dirty dust of Accra. I grow with the sidelines
of my grandmother’s wild peppers. Father still loses his job.
Mother sells bottles and I sell my body to a Minister
with piles of citizen’s papers on his desk. I am not ashamed
because it pays for tuition and a trip to the market. I believe
in something but it is not God. It is shaped like the curves
of my ears and it tastes like rust. Poetry does not save me,
but how can this be? But how can this be?
Post Card to Accra
You, my dirty lover, when will I
come for you? Sweat all over your borders
and dew in your belly button. Do the market
women still sit at your breast and suck money
from dry nipples? Do you dance to the rain
chimes, box cement houses to your teeth?
Where do you sit after the sun bursts brightness
and a wind blows your dusty dawns?
Are your beggars not rich, seeking salvation instead of change?