Nana Boateng


My blanket lays horizontally stretched over me like a striped boys
polo on a man with an overdue beer belly.

She’s left early because bits of sun have begun filling up and dripping over
the panels of the blinds. The light that slips in, on the backs of dust particles,
shadows over the blemishes of lint and dead ends that rest on top of the smooth
sheets surrounding me.

I am in a bed of my hair. Twisting and pulling at each exposed fray,
I hold onto the last few strands that sit where the border of coils meet flesh.
And pluck! Hard enough for the mound of dirt hidden at the base of the roots
to flake over my brow.


I keep calling. Someone will come. Their knocking will push open the door
just enough to let the air in both rooms touch finger tips. Until then I’ll wait.
I mumble a few lines of the Lord’s Prayer. Not loud enough to hear myself, but to get the point
across. Each vowel quivers off the waxy white fluorescent sealant, brushed on the walls.

“It’s the duplex effect” I imagine the landlord telling my mother.
His hair is thinned out to the tip of the floccule with a thick Doo Gro gel. His left hand
is stuffed further than the bottom of his pocket, and he keeps licking his lips
to ease the silence after each word.

(Your mother will retell this to you, but you won’t believe her.)

I yawn before I can say amen and finish the thought. I listen as the sharp
“Ah” in men gets caught on the air coming from behind the door and slips out.


It was 8:00pm in Macy’s.
After taking a break, the woman’s voice stuck
in the ceiling cries down that the store
will be closing 25 minutes from now.

I am sitting beside the mirror
in the shoe section that stretches from
the carpet to the ceiling’s meridian.
A man with a faint bald spot
at the spiral of his hair nearly steps
into the mirrors reality; everything reflected back
is covered in red ribbons and sales tags.

A girl,
about 10, walks up to the cold glass
and looks up her nose. She forks through her long hair
tossing it from the hollow of her shoulders, waiting
for shells to clatter to the floor. Nothing comes
except strands of spidery blonde tendrils
that faint face down onto the store rug.
It doesn’t seem to collect as much dust
as hardwood or linoleum, but like the mirror
it can only whisper truths.

I am looking for my mother, but I cannot see her
over the sound of plastic. The lady behind the counter
is filling each bag from the bottoms
of their bellies to the tops of their throats
with old and new shoes. She doesn’t care
that their boxes mix. She cries to her coworker
that she’s been trying to strangle the bags’ necks
shut for three days, but it hasn’t caught
in a loop yet. She spends the rest
of the time trying to fit her size 9 feet into a 7.
Just as the heel of her left foot seems to make an effort,

I catch a blur of my mother in the mirror’s eye.
Nana Boateng is a Junior English writing major at Berea College. She currently works as the head coordinator of Diversity Peer Education at her college, where she creates programming geared towards diversity and inclusion. Previously had her poem Gedda published in Cliterature Journal, Volume XXIX, 2013. In her free time she listens to podcast and DJs for her college’s online radio station.