What I Know - Nii Ayikwei Parkes

This is what I know; that I wake
up one morning when I am eight and walk
outside to the sound of a cock crowing.
The leaves on the first tree I touch are black
and gleam with whispers from the night’s passing.
All about me are shadows and I am, at once,

unsure of what I know: the bushes I kicked
my ball past yesterday are pumped with new muscles
and rise from the riddled haze in front of me
as sentinels from another realm. The cock has gone
quiet and I curse myself for stepping unshod
into the moist mystery afoot at the calling of a phantom

cock. I blink three times but the shroud will not peter
and, behind me, footsteps echo like a call to the sun.
When my father reaches me I raise my arm and point
in front of me: what is that? Mist, he replies –
and what do I know of mist, its shifting brilliance, its weightless
weight, its liquid kiss? But I know the shape I pointed at,

my love, that brooding morning
under my father’s darkness, and tonight
I name you – you are mist.

Originally published in "The Makings of You", Peepal Tree Press, 2010. Reprinted by permission of the author.
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