Delete/Recover

By AKWE AMOSU

Image of a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC, with someone holding up a sign saying "No Justice, No Peace." 
New York City

After Kenosha, Wisconsin, 26 August 2020

1. Erasure

I went to the         for water, 
although I had no thirst, again 
unable to find           Not sleeping, 
roaming restless, hunting 
at 2am for             on my phone, 
no rabbit hole too deep, however 
dull, aching tired as though 
I had been              
Only three days into this, 
asked how my              was 
going, I launched into a tense             
            that the question even 
deserved              and saw how hard, 
again, I was trying not to            the 
plain fact that right in front of us,
again, the cop had emptied 
his          into a human, 
now                  yet shackled 
to his hospital bed.  That again, a 
young          had taken down a human 
with a military grade             yet 
          away from the scene unhindered. 
And that, again, we were being asked
to choke off              thoughts, stifle 
any            sound, stave and belt 
the chest to                our agitation, 
keep breathing because, again,
we
      

Image of Black Lives Matter written on the ground with dry flowers and a picture of George Floyd. 

2.  Rewrite

You can put your faith 
in a book, pray from it, place it
under a sick child’s pillow, press
flowers between the leaves, 
affirm love for the living, be 
in the swim of things, learn
what is human from its pages
and become that. The book 
will restore you,
reciprocate.

A river of new works springs
constant, fresh from our longing,  
bearers of witness, verdicts,
drafts of history carrying clues 
or solace, sparking courage
to record something important, 
frank truth on a flyleaf, a secret 
scrawled on the dark side 
of the dust jacket – the proof 
our successors will need 
to secure what’s due. A book 
outlasts, speaks for us, 
for you.

Make your own, it will 
take care of your story.
I’ve put all I can bear to share
in a slim volume, memorial 
garden for my dead and those
I need to keep alive, talisman 
for days when I can’t recall 
the task, don’t love my comrades.
A book to stand for me when 
legs buckle under a heavy 
heart, a gathering flag to follow
on the road to being seen, 
heard, read right. A book will
carry you. Carry one. 

 
Akwe Amosu’s poems are a contribution to the
Solidarity Book Project, Amherst, October-December 2021.

 
Akwe Amosu
is a Nigerian/British poet. Her poems have appeared in South African journals
Carapace, New Contrast, and Stanzas, and US journals Illuminations and The Common, as well as African anthologies. Her book, Not Goodbye, was published by Snail Press in South Africa in 2010 and she was a featured poet at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in South Africa in 2014. She is based in New York, working on a project to support human rights leadership around the world. She previously worked at the Open Society Foundations and before that as a journalist and editor with the BBC, the Financial Times and allAfrica.com, and with the UN in Ethiopia.

Delete/Recover

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