Jee-Won M. E. Arkoi

One poem

My Mother’s Tale:

for My Mother

She stood there on a Saturday morning,
painting a mental picture in her mind,
watching the heavy downpour
that had begun the day before
but still didn’t seem to be near the end.

Our bag of rice is empty, and if you know,
you know that you shouldn’t play
with Liberian people’s rice business.
In this Liberian household,
we eat country rice only.
She imagines the hassle she’ll go through
to “find car.” On this rainy, cold,
wet Saturday morning, she thinks
of the beans she cooked on Thursday,
the one Baby Arkoi likes, but didn’t enjoy
because she likes it with country rice
not the imported nyanmanyama.

She imagines Gorbachev market, Red-Light,
where the zogoes hustle rain or shine,
where there is mud, red, thick, stinking mud.
She imagines the portor, portor,
but like a hen who has waited for the rain
that refuses to cease, like a hen,
that keeps her children warm
under her wings while her heart breaks
from watching them starve,

like a hen, that goes into the rain ignoring
the cold, searching for the last rice grain,
Mama Arkoi put on her boots, got herself ready,
and ran through our flooded yard, into the rain.
Looking for rice for us her chicks,
my wonderful mother.
It’s Sunday morning, and it’s raining still,
Rev. Arkoi looks out the window,
pointing at the chickens in the rain.

Our Desse, my Esika though from another world,
relates to that country chicken
more than Mawein, the Lorma people’s stranger,
more than Sumowuo, a son of the soil,
Mama Arkoi looks at the chickens, and smiles
and then laughs, her laughter so alive
and sweet like the melodies of her people,

like the Lingala songs from her people,
the Congolese people, who know how to sing
so well, songs I don’t understand, but try to sing.
She laughs, thinking about yesterday’s
trip to Red-light Market.
Looking out the window, she says, “I remember.”



Jee-Won M.E. Arkoi's Photo

Jee-Won M. E. Arkoi, 19 years old, is a Librian who enjoys reading contemporary poetry, memoirs, and other literary materials that appeal to people’s emotions. She is a junior student of Social Work at Stella Maris Polytechnic, Mother Pattern College of Health Sciences, and aspires to become a Psychologist. Jee-Won writes poetry as a way of telling her story and she benefits from the mentorship of Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley through the Young Scholars of Liberia program in Monrovia, Liberia.



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