Home / Issue 34 / My Mother's Ghost Looks Away When I Say Her Father's Name

My Mother's Ghost Looks Away When I Say Her Father's Name

By Robert Okaji

Poetry Prize winner

Your body's garden sprouts angry blue fingers

when I mention Magosuke, whose spirit I've not met.

When I mouth his name reluctance oozes out

 

and your saplings shiver in the moist air. I know only

that he drank to excess and threatened to murder my father,

yet somehow I think he would endorse my inabilities,

 

and if we should meet, I'll ask. Is the language

in each afterlife the same or does it fragment and

scatter with every fallen petal? You taught me

 

to speak without words, to believe in the undercurrent.

Do you breathe in this existence, or absorb?

Do your roots stretch across ocean floors, from heaven

 

to Texas, from light to anthracite? Is this iris

love or a symptom of decay? I accept with silence my

inheritance of silence, and remember shaping mounds

 

with you and planting dark seeds. So many seeds.