Blowing Smoke

for the curve of dismounts 



She lifts her head to gift the stars white 

smoke and my lips are drawn to the floral 

arch of her neck, inching higher, the swirl 

her fragrant exhalations make becoming night: 

breath to air, dust to dust – we are mortals 

drenched in a hummingbird sensation of time. 




I have known moments like this; my naked torso 

brown as the bark of the mango tree I’ve mounted, 

its leaves camouflage while I watch my playmates 

seeking me, excitement choking me the same way 

her moving fingers make my breath hover. She catches 

me in the corner of her eye, my lips tremble on her 

skin before the giggle becomes sound: lightning to thunder. 




Sometimes I was found – some girl or boy throwing stones, 

breaking the amnios of leaves that protected me – but most 

times I just got tired of waiting and shimmied down.  Love 

is a little like that – the playmates plentiful as pollen grains 

yet only a few bursting beyond the red bubble of lust 

to the heart, the after-giggle, where the smoke rings go. 

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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