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

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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 ...