By Sojourner Ahebee

I was named for a Thursday: Ahou,

the sound of a mother’s mourning

after her child’s been eaten by crocodiles,

Ahou, the sound of luck

wrapping itself around  

a baby girl’s spirit,

Ahou, the sound of a brown girl’s first breath,

Ahou, the rainy season in rebellion:

crushed hibiscus in the front yard,

school girls wearing oceans,

green uniforms drenched in remnants from the sky,

the thrashing of water atop coconut,

the sound of something coming to get you,

the way power is matrilineal in these parts.

I am a Baoulé girl estranged.

The women in the marketplace are loud.

I can still hear their voices across an Atlantic:

I turn in my sleep and listen to the leftovers of bartering:

flies hover around ripe fruit like gossips,

brown hands wave stories into the humidity,

umbrellas throw shade atop vendors

while these women breathe in the scent of acheke

held tight in a cassava leaf,

these women breathe in

a dead hen’s feathers,

bananas that have slept too long in the sun,

These women breathe in

coffee beans with the residue of a farmer’s hands

and they swallow this reality,

spit up truth for sale,

keep swinging their hands through the muggy day,

making demands of God, the customers,

and the rain against umbrellas draped with trash bags,

the rain that slides so easily down plastic

like a woman’s sweating in the swelter of an Ivorian night,

pillow wet with freedom.

These women know not of this captivity,

wrapped in the innards of a green cassava leaf.