Half a Lime
His pen moves as fast as darkness scatters.
Three fleshy creases mark his forehead
as he leans pensively forward
like a question mark filled with life.
The cocks have crowed; in the streets
brooms raise dust. I rise early.
I want to be the first to see him
smile, see his small, white teeth
expose themselves without inhibition
like nudists on a beach of gums.
Pigeons gather… the sun summons
its light. I head outside.
I can see him before I see him;
yesterday’s paper to his left,
a pen in his right hand
and sheaves of paper awaiting stains.
The dew rises like fleeting
possibilities in the new heat.
He’s waiting. I like the song he hums,
the tenor harmony of a Jimmy Smith solo.
Silent, he passes his clean mug to me.
We’ll talk between hot sips of tea.
The kettle boils; loaded
bubbles of speech waiting to burst.
I make two cups: black, no sugar,
with half-a-lime squeezed in each.
His mouth forms a vaginal shape as he sips
the heat, the promise of a new day.
Something warm passes from father to son.
Silence becomes an enduring memory.
And this week. I buy seven perfect limes. One
for every new day. I will slice them in two
each morning, squeeze one half for me. And one
half into an empty cup. For the memories.
from The Geez (Peepal Tree, 2020), © Nii Ayikwei Parkes 2020, used by permission of the author