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Devotion | Tryphena L. Yeboah

Devotion | Tryphena L. Yeboah

Devotion | Tryphena L. Yeboah | Agbowo | Top African poems


For D

This can only end in two ways.

With you, I want the good kind—
in which we return to each other again and again,

leaving behind what insists on corrupting us,
numbing us layer by layer until nothing sings.

No, it is not that we escape the hardships of the world,
or tuck ourselves away when the darkness comes.
Because that will find us too, all the little disasters,
how they lie in wait, and when they strike,
how they shake our worlds, leaving us furious
and desperate and on some days, lonelier than ever,
even when we have each other.

What I want is the certainty of us,
despite the quakes that split through the ground,
despite the abundant and desert years,
despite what we salvage and what we lose,
despite the changes: my health declining,
your patience waning, my bitterness, your sorrow.
All our days, we feel this fickle thing of emotion
that rises and falls like the tide—overwhelming
and unsteady in its ways. We carry its defiant spirit in us,
we fight it, but we often lose because it takes over our hearts,
our minds, and our affection for each other.

Still, in all this, the assurance of us is what remains,

such that even now, when you’ve crossed the line and
I cannot stand you, cannot stand this manner of devotion,

when I want to hurt you with my words or dig a spade
of silence between us, I do not move my hand when you
reach for it. I keep it there and, under the warmth of your palm,
the quiet tensions begin to unravel. This is how I love you:
when everything in me wants to be cold and distant,
I bow my head and plant a kiss on the back of your stubborn hand.

Tryphena L. Yeboah

Tryphena Yeboah is a Ghanaian writer and the author of the poetry chapbook, A Mouthful of Home (Akashic, 2020). Her fiction and essays have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Commonwealth Writers, and Lit Hub, among others. She is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

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