when things get (… get what?)
i feel like i did as a child
hiding from grownups during
early morning travels
people asking where is she clenches
every nerve in my body
sends delicious ripples down my legs
it is how i know i liked being held
lightning quick, too hard, never more than once
but where it counts, always where it counts
i feel i am under a table
hearing someone ask where i am
snug under dust-covered tablecloths
sampling yellow play-doh
finding comfort in the comfort of uncomfortable thoughts
i am missing from an emotional space
someone is looking for me
i want to say: hold me where it counts, only where
hold my bruised ankle up in place
my swollen fingers too
my bleeding tongue between my teeth
when i see tables, no matter how small
i glide glide underneath and kiss the panic
full-on in the mouth
ghosts don’t get anxious
i need to play the part
it’s easy enough to live a life
just pick one and go
have you ever been lonely
have you ever tried hiding in a city
where everyone knows you
lay me down here and i’ll show you
Wayward child of Kaolack and Rosso, where have you been? Broken Wolof tumbling from your
lips never matches
the cadences in your head. When you have children, if you have children, that cadence will
sound even off-er,
téléphone arabe, grapevine whispers and down and down it will go distorting itself — what a
joke – until you
no longer recognize your tribe on your tongue. You didn’t pay attention, you didn’t listen to the
dispensed by your mother at the stove. It’s too late for you to pull thought fragments from the pools of your
opaque mind. Even if you whisk your fingers in it and hope you can only move forward, you can
only make mistakes.
Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are, then?
Say, who do you think you are?
Put a match to your heritage,
see if the fire warms you for a change.
A. Martine is a trilingual writer, musician and artist of color who goes where the waves take her. She might have been a kraken in a past life. She’s an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press and a co-Editor-in-Chief and Producer of The Nasiona. Her collection ‘AT SEA’ was shortlisted for the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize. Some words found in Déraciné, The Rumpus, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Metaphorosis, South Broadway Ghost Society, Gone Lawn, Rogue Agent, Boston Accent Lit, Anti-Heroin Chic, Figure 1, Willawaw, Tenderness Lit.
*Illustration: ‘Tried Hiding in a City’ by Sef Adeola.