A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I’m waiting for my grandchildren to come. Waiting to rub down their little feet with my tired hands, to hold them close to my chest the way Iyeeh held me when the birthing mothers lay me in her brave arms in Dolokeh where I was born, the Toebo child, born in stranger land, Chee Dawanyeno, stranger woman, they named me. Waiting, so politicians can get that wake-up moment, grow hearts inside, and be men. Waiting for those babies in cages across America’s troubled heart to be freed. Waiting for the immigration breakdown of fences and hard people with their barbed-wired hearts, snatching hungry children from their mothers’ arms. Waiting for dawn, for the yellowing of sun and the passing of moon. Waiting for a kinder day to dawn. I’m waiting so my neighbor’s trees can shed their leaves willingly. Waiting for the snow, for the cold frosting of ground and tree limbs, for cliffs around this town where I have buried years of my life, to lower themselves so the winds can breathe for once, so new blood can move upon this old town and melt the cold in the shut-down hearts of this town, oh, Altoona, how long shall I be here to feel like belonging? I’m waiting to someday see my mother in Heaven, to hold her hand, to laugh and cry and listen to her one more time. Waiting to tell her how much I’ve discovered in the places where she pointed me, and how hard those places have become. To kneel before her in search of forgiveness, to do all the things I couldn’t do before she departed without bidding me farewell. I’m waiting for women to take hold of this broken world with their tenderness of heart without which there would be no earth, a world, ruined in unrepairable places by people who have kept a blindness as their hope. Yes, I’m waiting so women can walk again, the way we were meant to walk hard, on surfaces where men have refused to walk. Waiting, so, we can finally mend the pain of our broken homelands, all the ruined places of our being, oh Africa, to mend our broken roads and broken minds. I’m waiting so we can heal this world for my grandchildren. Waiting to turn my world over to my children, Before I someday pass on to the other world, where our ancestral mothers have found their own stools from which to reign, where my own mother, Hne Dahtedor, sits, waiting my arrival.
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State University. She is a Liberian Civil War survivor who immigrated to the United States with her family in 1991, and the author of six books of poetry, including Praise Song for my Children: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House, 2020).
Copyright 2020 Patricia Jabbeh Wesley