A Night in Madina

by Brian Gyamfi

I had turned 25, had arrived in Madina,
where I could not utter a logical phrase
save a translation of hello through clotted breath.
I spoke to a stranger. I couldn’t say much
but I could smoke. The stranger didn’t eat much
and she didn’t dance
and she didn’t remove her plastered shoes
and her neck wasn’t a pipe screwed on by smoke
her knees weren’t scraped with dust either,
I cannot say the same about her fingers.
In the evening, the trees turned to ice
and I stayed at the restaurant
watching the cars
and I didn’t eat what I was given,
banana, wine, something that was once alive in the sea.
I can’t remember what was said
or why the stranger yawned. But as I sit on the balcony
I wonder how I say to the breeze
I’m overwhelmed by its movement.

Finalist, the Poetry International Prize 2022

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