grief spinning 

take me back to a time when the ghosts didn’t speak so loud. 
the haint that lived above my bed once held vigil for hisself alone;  
now he’s proselytizing about End of Days with just me in the pulpit, 
in the sheets. 
if it’s another dreamvision prophecy, let it pass. 
these pillowcases have learned me everything they could and i, a clamorous 
study, had to barrel headfirst into sorrow ---- so silly to see myself through
shadowed thing engulfed by muffled silence. we are i suppose, all connected
by our midnight histories. 
i want to bury my head in sand, let sediment break the meat of my cranium 
                                                                                into hot foot powder. 
please, crush me into something useful. 
it might not raise the dead, but i heard them laughing until the sunrise 
led them into slumber. at least i entertained. not many can say the same. 
what i meant to say is i want to swim deep 
roam further into an infinite blue of want --- unburdened by bordered memory. 
being once property myself* i know what it means to depreciate my value 
to get old & stagnant, to be a co-conspirator with grief & wait patiently 
for the next spillover event.  
drop my body at the edge of green and let mycelium spread my 
gifts across memory’s dark underbelly.

* After Lucille Clifton’s “Being Property Once Myself” 

a black hair study in commensalism, i.e. grease and glory in the marshlands of my scalp 

sit still, knees dig into small shoulders 
seating me steady 
as my grandmother’s raisined fingers
grease the chitlin circuit of my scalp 
singing soft bayou hymns: you’re safe here. 
if i could maroon into the forest of my hair 
i would: no questions asked 
no notebooks left behind, unspoiled 
restore me back better, fill my knocked 
around head with box braids 
reminiscent of Mississippi cypress 
against a swamp of salty skin. 
this overgrown railroad of twist and coil 
rejects the dirty promise of industry 
the dust and rust honeyed into fertilizer 
where an insurgent bloom can emerge 
here, there is no clank of metal 
no concrete coffins covering my most 
authentic kinkycurl iterations as memory 
begs my safe return 
any shoreline edge erosion 
is my responsibility and mine alone 
the fuzz of new growth, an epiphytic marvel 
marking tendrils territory for dispersal & 
comes with the wind, wind, rush. 
the naps at my kitchen signal season 
for an emergent abundance, untamed 
kanekalon bundles 
irritate me into length retention ---
this is the veneration we make to protect 
our best selves 
		& let our treetops seduce 
		success under the golden sun. 

About the Author

Ashia Ajani (they/she) is an award winning Black storyteller and environmental educator originally from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute, Arapahoe and Comanche peoples. She is an environmental justice educator with Mycelium Youth Network. They have been published in Frontier Poetry, Exposition Review, Apogee Journal, Foglifter Press, World Literature Today, and Sierra Magazine, among others. Spend some time in their neck of the woods @ashiainbloom.

Feature image by socialcut/Unsplash