Poetry: Final Relaxation by Akhim Yuseff Cabey
Akhim Yuseff Cabey’s “Final Relaxation” is a full row of teeth: neatly and densely packed, every word carefully designed by its context to lift more than its muscles should allow. This is how words get in our bodies—this, this.
you sit and rip up pictures of the kind of girl
I loved as a boy: ones who pressed hair
flaccid in devotion to photogenic seraphim torn
from magazines then taped to bedroom walls
like dead butterflies to an album. now? just
rubble scattered near your knees like bitterly
orphaned collage. has it always been kitsch
like the conk for women flat-iron-lie seduced
to make enemies of the girls they used to be?
by fifteen I’d had it hard for a handful who
coerced plagued manes into fiber-optic strands
finer than May wine. a few, I know now, cared
back. during those seminal years of confusion
I pored over the sheened chasms of abundant
black silk that revealed Spanish vessels retreating
along a misplaced ocean’s anachronistic body.
I became in that other life a boy-man—muscles
hardened by the yam harvest, and you
a red-brick-colored, round-bellied beauty awaiting
in the dimly lit clay hut of our Africa in reverse.
I am fattened by the then and now of us both.
but never will I ask you to tether whole these shards
to the present coil of my heart. just gift me a few
pieces to pocket before you kiss the lit match
to the errant rest and watch strands of memory
Originally from New York City, Akhim Yuseff Cabey is a Pushcart Prize winning author whose work has appeared in the minnesota review, Obsidian, Callaloo, The Sun, Matter Monthly, Kweli, Bridgewater Review, and elsewhere. He lives and teaches in Columbus, Ohio.