The Tree Carries Water

by Brian Gyamfi

What is tenderness in water? An apricot tree grows in New Mexico,
the community garden becomes a street.

When gardens become cement, the ancestors throw little stones
—I write this to understand the sorcerer in Benin:

the breaker of mountains, a heavy voice
in the story of a gardener fetching a boy from the river,

his hand under heavy current, a beetle climbing a tree
—it shouts the river is eating the flower, the soil mutates.

The gardener grabs the river like an old man chasing cars
and yells boy, hold my hand! The spirit-world is near the rock, I

am speaking in the dark! This is a moment of fear;
the boy speaks to the water. The gardener, yes, something old

in his body soothes the river, the moment pauses:
the apricot tree grows. Dandelions pass where I used to live.

The gardener lets go of the river, the water whispers we’re refined
—in my thoughts, the sorcerer in Benin is the river

as there’s a tenderness in a boy breathing himself to survive
or a dandelion and an apricot tree falling into cement.

In New Mexico, I watch my tomatoes become something else
with a tart scent. A broken vegetable grows in cement, a beetle falls

from the tree—there are no trees. When the sun
approaches, I speak to the dandelions, to the apricot tree.

Finalist, the Poetry International Prize 2022

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