Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: I’m Waiting

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

7 comments on “Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: I’m Waiting

  1. Kate Roman
    March 26, 2021

    Beautiful, heart swelling, tearful, hopeful, unsettling, poignant, thought provoking.
    Thank you for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Prudestar
    March 25, 2021

    “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.”
    This piece captures a lot. Thanks so much Ade.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rose Mary Boehm
    March 24, 2021

    Beautiful and heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth Peyton
    March 24, 2021

    We are waiting but some kindness is breaking through…Beautiful poem. It captures so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. d.a.simpsonwriter
    March 24, 2021

    Very very beautifully and movingly observed poetry

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maddiemysko
    March 24, 2021

    Thank you for this beautiful comforting poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Noel Canin
    March 24, 2021

    This poem speaks to the deepest parts of me, I wait with you, Patricia.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2021 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , , .

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