2011 World AIDS Forum: Featured Poet: Octavia McBride-Ahebee – The Feminist Wire

2011 World AIDS Forum: Featured Poet: Octavia McBride-Ahebee

The Japanese Teahouse
To Greg Witcher

I can now see
the skirt hems of hants
stitched by the hands of the living
they keep with them in this sphere
the shame and vanity of us all
and so hide their naked spirits
in calico gowns shielding indigo slips
made loose for easy movementLa Fleur cannot see the ghosts of this house
vying for perfume and overripe papaya
spreading like yeast
in anticipation of bounty
spreading with the unyielding spell of raw cauliflower
He hears their whispers
entangled in the whistling overtones of searching mice
their frosted threats to lick
the healing fungus off the backs of caterpillars
and press into dust with their weightless humor
another cloak of his torment
-the anointed AZTYet
his third eye is sane, blighted
perceiving the lust of fear
flapping in its own daydreams
anxious to walk backwards
with those who die away from homeLa Fleur wants to sleep with cannons
near the vacant majesty of the Citadelle
under the guard of the grand Baron Samedi
in a grave that slides with no conscience
when the soil breathes too heavily
when forgotten things are collectedHe wants to leave my city of foot-long sandwiches
and soft pretzels,
of trolley cars that triumph underneath the unbecoming frailty
of a cowed city
whose river has no bend
to return to Cap-Haitian
saluting the honeyed fantasies of home
spawned by the simple need
of man who can’t build on the cunning of tomorrow

I whisper in his ear still open to thought
I hold his hand, scaled and aloof,
still greedy for the soles of other’s fingertips
I say forget the cannons
and the piece of earth that exhales with no attention
my hants are vain
they dress in slips of purple and blue
today, we will sip evergreen plants
in the park where the Japanese teahouse sings
and we will berate any presumption
yours were days unspent.
Octavia McBride-Ahebee is a poet whose work has  appeared in  Damazine; A Literary Journal of the Muslim World, Fingernails Across The Chalkboard: Poetry And Prose on HIV/AIDS From the Black Diaspora, Under Our Skin: Literature of Breast Cancer, Sea Breeze- A Journal of Contemporary Liberian WritingThe Journal of the National Medical Association, Art in Medicine Section and the Beloit Poetry Journal.  Her poetry collections include AssumingVoices  and Where My Birthmark Dances, which was published in July 2011 by Finishing Line Press.