Speaking Words


Merikokeb Berhanu (Ethiopia/US), Untitled XLVII (2020), acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 in. / Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

You always serve coitus with a side of cheese
silkworms squirming in the pit of my stomach
toes curled like cochleas.
Why is there singing in my socks?
When I’m the one touching you?

Skin over steel my lips tingle at meeting
Laved with my tongue till I smile at its gleaming
The ridge of your fingers abridging my insides
you linger I tingle star-spangled with goosebumps
pooling in a spool of musk at your feet

diphthongs from your silk tongue
my cry goes slow
till caressings are croonings and spoonings and moonings
my mind a knife blade of skin in razor-thin ruins
extinguished relinquished
my linguist
male mystic
     I sing this
     I sing this
     You strum me like music

Famia Nkansa is a Ghanaian writer whose work has been published in Fiction International, Poetry International, the Sonder Review, As/Us, Black Arts Quarterly, Callaloo, and the fifth FEMRITE Residency anthology Nothing to See Here. She was a finalist for the 2015 BN Poetry Prize. Her collection Sabbatical was published as part of the 2017 New-Generation African Poets box set.

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