Akwe Amosu

It’s been a year and some days.
We are surfacing, trying to hear again.
The washing machine is running.
The quality of silence in the house
is still the same – furred, humming.
You could be downstairs at your desk.
strolling, slippered, from your office
to make a cup of tea. In a minute
you may call up to ask for biscuits.
As the night comes down you will
sink into the couch and switch on
Lehrer for the news. Or at least,
the silence seems to say,
you might.

Looking for a lost thing,
we say: “I think I saw it in dad’s office.”
We ask carefully: “What are you feeling?”
in case it is not grief but a bad grade,
a hard day at work that’s showing.
People ask, “how are you doing?”
offhand so as not to revive the roar
but we don’t know how to answer
because of this silence. It has snowed
which muffles things. The cat left
for three weeks but came back.
I want to come back but I’m absent

-minded, as if trying
to retrieve a question that just
slipped my mind, about the silence.
You could be out posting a letter,
I don’t recall. It’s the resurfacing,
a thick layer muffling what I know.
Some days I sense a sob gathering
in the swell a few waves out
and have time to prepare; but last week
boiling the kettle, empty-headed,
I let out a howl like a dog that
came from nowhere, made me jump.
It has been a year and some days.
Where, that was the question. Where?

Born in the UK and raised in Nigeria, Akwe Amosu has worked as a journalist on three continents but now lives in New York working on African issues for a human rights and governance foundation. Her poems have appeared in South African journals Carapace and New Contrast, and in Illuminations in the US. A book of her poems, Not Goodbye, was published by Snail Press in 2010.

Return to Table of Contents