‘A bitter cold wind swept round them, and
she felt something pulling at her dress.
“Quick, quick,” cried the Ghost’ – Oscar
Wilde, The Canterville Ghost
before i can speak you’re already gone
all of you, ghosts shimmering in the flames
of absence, i question you and the wind
answers. i am left with the spite of night.
the elders say you can only tell a frog’s true length
when it dies: your bodies are now sand and bone,
no rulers can lay their digits on you.
i question you and the wind answers
sarah, emma, jerry… – I could name you all;
you said crying was good, but you didn’t say
which eye should first shed its load. this riddle
ages me. i question you and the wind answers.
yesterday I saw a dead frog, lonely
by the side of the road. i could tell
its length, but its voice had faded in the sun,
its green and blood were fused into mystery.
i turned to point it out to you, but before
i could speak the wind blew my scarf away.
uncollecteded poem, © Nii Ayikwei Parkes 2021, used by permission of the author.