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Life Cycle

by Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie

Memory: There’s the sound of the car lock
snap, smack shut like sucking teeth. An old me, child
strapped into the back seat of my mother’s Nissan, whistling.
Whistling What?
I don’t remember. God knows.
So does my mother.
So what woman couldn’t do His job?

Now: I try to keep up with my body. My left hand cleaves to my right
breast under my shirt for want of something to un-idle. Each finger
spreads like a wide tooth comb, then one
around another, tangles.

If lucky, I won’t have to be any more human
than I am right now.
I don’t want to return in the next life
Unless I’m an animal perched
in its own language.
A fiction, unalive
in 2D spun on paper
from a child’s pen.
Whatever is safe
from this life
from what it cannot know.


Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie is a Zambian-Ghanaian poet who grew up in Botswana. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. She is the winner of Button Poetry’s 2019 Chapbook Contest (Born in a Second Language, forthcoming July 2021). She is a finalist of Narrative’s 12th Annual Poetry Prize, The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, The Furious Flower Poetry Prize , Palette Poetry’s Spotlight Award among others. Akosua has received fellowships from Tin House, the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, Callaloo and the Watering Hole. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Obsidian, Kweli, Pank and elsewhere. (AkosuaZah.com)

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