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For Patricia Fargnoli Our beloved lay down and then elopedto that other world. Poets, musicians, chefs, bus drivers, all, the mighty, the small, the good, the bad and the ugly, all of them, lying down,and in their dying, lose their need for usand this world.Sometimes, I wonder, are there any poetryfestivals out in the better world, where, after the soul takes leaveof all its fragments we otherwise, call “body,” only bones are left in the grave.Are there recitals, musicians, bowing,any need for long gowns,or need to put on lipstick, arrange the hairbackwards, or flaunt your braids? Any need to lose your high heels?Are there any houses with flat roofs, like the one on which the neighborsused to party on my father’s roofwhen I was a child?Are there rooms for moms to sit and laughabout their children weeping over their departure, not knowingtheir moms were so happy, they did not even look back, even though they died,wide-eyed, limp limbs, empty of all breath,gone, gone?Like the way the leaf flies off, the way sundisappears behind everything that wasn’t already gone.Does God take their hand, and say, my child,forget that old, ugly world? What happenedto all those poets, gone,those great novelists? Toni? Chinua?What happened to Maya, Buche, Art Smith,even Liberia’s own poet, Bai T? What happened to Jon Tribble,editor, friend, darling to Allison Joseph?Is he editing a magazine still,in that other world? Are their poetry readings,nights of Q & A, students, listening,and taking notes? What happened to my friend,Patricia Fargnoli when she arrived in the other world, her book,Hallowed, in hand, and did God say, “Patricia,you don’t need that book anymore. They all know how hard you worked,those intricate verses, your love of words,sit here, and relax, my girl”? What happenedto those who weren’t poets, or singers, or mothers or Dads?Did they also find a place to sit and laughat the wailing we do to see them elope from us, the runaways to death, the oneswho left without wanting to leave?And we, standing in awe, like a traveler, lost on a long journey.How do we trust what we have heard whenthe dead are so silent, resolute, teasing as we stand over their bodies in awe?Is there a room where aging motherswatch football, write a poem,cook palm butter, bake a cake, for one to read a poem by a dead poet friend?Are there rooms they lock to keep the curiousliving out? What happens the first morning they arrive, after dying?How do we know they aren’t laughingat us in our tears? What if my friendwas saying, “Don’t cry, Patricia, I’m glad I read your book last year;go on, find time to dance and laugh, and whenyou’re ready, and here, we’ll do a poetry event in this better world, this green,flowery, peaceful world, wherewe do not need our books.”
Copyright 2021 Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s many books include Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House, 2020). She is a survivor of the Liberian Civil war and currently lives in Pennsylvania.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Left me smiling. Thank you.
Yes, Patricia’s poetry has such energy!
LikeLiked by 3 people
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