Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ellipses

I first met my sister one Christmas Eve, I was about to reach my maturity
A long story, gaps, pain, and the ellipses that belie a longer history
Of such things are families made, what with the undercurrent of trauma
Still, that quarter century was tough to bridge between mother and daughter

We'd been talking over the months and now it was a family reunion
Feeling each other out, exchanging banalities, she was unassuming
The three of us in the Brent Cross flat, a typically cold English winter
Contra London's grey, we all wore the most godawful sweaters

We settled in with no wariness and just got on
Cool customers, we were nothing if not nonchalant
They stared at each other these proud African women
My aunt made it a fourth in our exiled quadrant

A meeting of minds, myself, aunt, sister, and mother
Exiled souls, from homelands and from each other
Four lonely Londoners now missing Nigeria and Ghana
Wondering how to write the script for tomorrow's chapter

The usual suspects came into play: respect, deference, shame, and matters of protocol
We found our way through the initial unease and established our new rituals
Not knowing what one should expect, our trajectories in life were not too dissimilar
Still it was disconcerting, in the moment, to experience the shock of the familiar

Crafting narratives, some of us for a living, we were all born storytellers
Truth and reconciliation, it was hard to tell who could top the other
We could each raise the stakes recounting close encounters
And mention the harrowing escapes that marked our identities
The stolen moments we now shared, the tale of the lost stories

We quickly forgot the hurt and settled into the comfort suites of teasing
Deflecting past slights with irony and dry humor, we practiced the art of easing
Still, the mannerisms were uncanny, genetics could not be denied
Fittingly, the first movie we watched together was Secrets and Lies

ghana artwork mother and child

Elliptical, a playlist


The soundtrack to this grace note comes courtesy of Meshell NdgegeOcello, purveyor of liquid soul and elliptical funk grooves.

I nominate this brief note for The Things Fall Apart Series under the banner of Social Living. What paradise have we lost?


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Writing log: March 25, 2021

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