Fires and a mother’s absence – A Poem by Henrietta Enam Quarshie

Fires and a mother’s absence

Here in this place and time we are together.
Tired skins stretched over brittle bones like the yarn that stretches to cover the buttocks of our youngest. The night is cold and the winds whisper like gossip we are not interested in.

Here in this place and time we huddle together.
We try to keep warm but the cold is within and not without.
Father blows air into the fire in the wall.
His eyes are hazy and he lets out a sigh that echoes through our eardrums.
We know, yes we know he is frustrated by more than just the wet firewood.

Mother may come in soon or perhaps later or not today.
Maybe she will smile and cuddle us beneath her breast.
Maybe she will return with goodies that will distract us all.
Maybe she and father will not sizzle in argument under hushed tones.
Maybe they will not try to hide the obvious friction between them.
Maybe, just maybe.

But right now here in this place,
our oldest stood and held father’s slumped shoulders.
The fire is burning brighter now.
My heart is full and my eyes spill.

Henrietta Enam Quarshie is currently a medical student at the University of Health and Allied Science. She comes from the Volta region of Ghana where she lives in its capital, Ho. She has been published by kalahari Review magazineAfrican Global NetworksPraxis magazineTampered Press and in anthologies: To grow in two bodies and The Big Yellow Post. Some of her works have also been rejected elsewhere. She’s a mother to pot plants and two fishes. She writes micro poetry on Instagram under the pseudonym Poetbyimpulse. Twitter handle @HenriettaEnam

Banner Art: Scattered Forms. Digital art by Robert Frede Kenter

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