A Gimbal of Blackness

for Pops



Night cannot grasp the swift flight 

of wind, but blackens every tree 

the air moves, paints them darker, pushes 

them against the light, the shapeless 

light that gives them shape to shift 


before my eyes. I am often in the embrace  


of night; I am myself a dark thing – 

the kind that was once called boy when man – 

that was born of a woman descended from hills 

and a man delivered from boyhood by the sea, 


a man now lifeless though he gave me life. 


I am often in the embrace of dark thoughts, 

in the dim grasp of memory, a bottle in hand, 

reflecting the light of the moon. I recall 

a can of Guinness left in a London fridge – 


one my father bought but didn’t get to drink – 


kept for me by a well-meaning aunt. And how 

hard my throat shrank with every sip, how sharp 

that smooth black liquid felt inside me, how hard 

these nights that blacken me, broken with grief 

for a man I loved, who can no longer grieve. 

from The Geez (Peepal Tree, 2020), © Nii Ayikwei Parkes 2020, used by permission of the author

Nii Ayikwei Parkes grew up in Ghana but was born in the UK where he later returned for further study, where with the friendship and ...

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