Three Poems by Tawiah Mensah

How We Mourn Without A Body

There is a song hovering over our roof.
It stays there even when the rains come.
It holds on tight even when silence dares to shake the very foundation.
My mother, a bed of raging waters, empties herself into her pots
and leaves echoes of laughter in every meal.
There are things we never talk about:
the burial of bodies, of the memories,
the unlearning of joy and the voice that carries it
The breaking down of shoulders that have carried stories
and bore every scar like its own.

I hear little prayers escape my mother’s lips every now and then.
that God may find my brother and bring him home –
whole and untouched and ours
But for all we know today could be the day
our doors burst open with a man we barely recognize
with stories of battle wounds his mouth cannot pour.

But there is a song hovering over our roof
Sometimes it sounds like my brother,
sometimes, it feels like a hand on my back, a presence.
moving through my being until hope has nowhere to hide.

Love That Spells Home

For so long you have run away from anything that smells like home only to wake up in the arms of
your father.
In falling in love they say to take your head with you and watch your heart sluggishly follow because
men are creatures with no backbone who cannot read a stop sign.
But what is love without a tumbling down of Jericho’s and little butterflies that leaves you drunk and
empty at the same time.
Today I hope you dance wearing your heart like a sleeve.
That your laughter rings like church bells on Sunday morning and awakens the darkness in places
you do not care to mention.

These Days Are the Hardest

For most days the only way to feel is to throw a knife into your skin and pull till the truth comes
spilling like rage.
Sometimes the body wages war and all you can do is watch till the fire burns out.

Every time the TV comes on there’s another you
trapping his breath in-between his words.
You see the fear pounding in his heart and pain is laced behind each curse he throws out.

These are things I know:
That God, in breathing into you, sent a fire ripping through your skin.

There is no poetic way to write about death
or a loss caused by people you give your power to.

Which prayer to say first?
A mother who left home without saying goodbye?
A brother with groceries on his return?
A child whose last imagination was a roller coaster filled with candy?

These are things I know:
That in making you, God did a little dance with his hands in the skies,
giggling, his head tilted to the side.

These are things I know:
That we are dripping honey and everything gold.

‘How We Mourn Without A Body’, ‘Love That Spells Home’ and ‘These Days Are the Hardest’ were first published as part of our Balance Anthology, Equanimity. Download the full anthology.