Three Poems

Paper Wings

I don’t remember most of it
It’s been a decade since I descended from the hill with paper wings sewn into my back

The faces don’t match the names
I think Crystal is Lydia
That Akua is the girl who took the top bunk next to me
And we ate together during siesta 
Now the names are all saved in my phone with a description 
Juliet— St. Ann’s house

The stories phase through me
As though I am experiencing my own memories for the first time
Stella said we knelt in front Ann’s as punishment for talking during prep
Or was it for having the lights on during lights out?
It’s all a haze

Though I remember crying in the chapel
Convinced, I was failing my mathematics exam
The candles illuminating the school
The paper feathers and relief
That I can taste 
That I cannot forget

My wings molt as I scroll through the texts in the group chat
I don’t know why I am in it
Most of these people barely tolerated me on the hill
Paper feathers float to ground with each beep of my phone
A new picture
A different video 
Of when we were all on the hill
Of when they all went back to the hill that is the Smithsonian of our teenage years

Paper wings furl around my body
I don’t remember most of it
What is the point of ascending the hill?
A reunion implies there are memories worth languishing in

That One Time I Was Going to Marry Jay Hernandez

Once I was going to marry Jay Hernandez

Because when I was fifteen actors and the characters they played were not separate entities 
Jay Hernandez was Carlos Nunez
I counted the beads on my rosary and implored Our Lady of the Star of the Sea 
For Jay Hernandez
For my own Carlos Nunez
But that was years ago 
When I believed in frivolous things such as love and happy ever after

Once I was going to marry Jay Hernandez and  Carlos Nunez would drive off  into the sunset
with me

Years ago, I learnt boys love me 
But not with care or trust
There was a boy who I loved once, as  teenagers 
And once again as adults
He laid me down in a field of lilies 
Trailed a finger down my cheek 
And with a smile told me my brain was too scrambled 
For his lips
For his hands

Once I was going to marry Jay Hernandez because Carlos Nunez would never whisper those

I used to lay in my bed and beg Madonna to fix the destruction in my mind
To standardise the electrical activity in my head
When I was fifteen I used to pretend I died 
At my funeral I would be worthy of attention 
And for a moment no friend said my body jerked one too many times to be associated with them

Once I was going to marry Jay Hernandez and Carlos Nunez was going to save me from

But that was years ago
I am not clutching my rosary 
Asking for Jay Hernandez or Carlos Nunez anymore
I am not worthless because of the chemical composition of my brain
The pills, the jerks; they are not greater than the sum of my parts
And I wish I knew that at fifteen

Little Spirits

My wife’s name was Dahlia 
The necromancer translates her name into a set of runes
He carves them into my kitchen door
The kitchen door is now a psychopomp
The runes scorching it, calling out for my wife
The necromancer says my wife has been gone a long time 
She might not want to see me despite the kitchen door’s blaze
I don’t deal in mights and maybes
If my kitchen can host the souls of the departed for the night then my wife is coming home

The kitchen smells of bergamot 
My wife loves the smell but she is not here
Not yet
Who knows what she likes now?
The necromancer says the place between here and there alters preferences
I don’t let it stop my attempts to make the kitchen look the way she left it
The blue plates out of the dish rack, the dish soap next to the green bowl for the sponges
I can almost see her sitting on the freezer laughing as I fuss about

My shirt is off now
The room is sweltering
The necromancer is still in his sweater
He doesn’t mind the weather of the place between here and there
I always thought the afterlife would be a cool breeze on a beach
But the necromancer says it’s a kiln
Souls help mould their new bodies for their next lives
I recognized Dahlia when she was eight
She called me Elias. That’s not my name.
Perhaps we had known each other when we were in the place between here and there

My wife walks through the kitchen door swathed in petals of all colours
The necromancer calls the petals little spirits and has me bow to them
My wife still loves the smell of bergamot
The little spirits dance around Dahlia when she sits next to me
Fingers brushing
Skin soft as before
Body smaller than before, 
Voice tinkling when she speaks
Eyes glassy when I say I wish she was home
The little spirits swim in between our bodies, replaying memories

Perhaps calling my wife was a mistake 
When she leaves I am hollow
I crave the heat of the place between here and there
The translation of my wife’s name is still carved into the kitchen door
The necromancer says it means quiet
Quiet, all is quiet except for the little spirits who remained with me
Petals in my hair
At my feet
Perhaps it wasn’t a mistake after all

*Photo by Marjan Blan on Unsplash.

Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta

Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta is a writer and poet from Takoradi, Ghana. Her work has appeared in Omenana Magazine, Lolwe, Tales & Feathers, the Ex-Puritan and other places. She can be found on Twitter @afaduawrites.