21 Days/21 Poems: ‘Stank with Sweat’ by Nana Nyarko Boateng

One day last week, around 1am,  Nana Nyarko Boateng (@mababiom), tweeted a link to a poem that she’d just posted on her blog, beyond tales.  I read and really liked it.  But it was 1am and I was a bit fuzzy in the head.  I’ve since gone back and confirmed my initial impression of the poem.

Nana Nyarko is a Ghanaian writer and poet.  She’s also a good friend.  You’ve got to know that the rawness of the title and the vulnerability running through a poem about strength are utterly characteristic of Nana Nyarko!

I’ve created another theme for Another 21 Days/21 Poems, the April celebration that’s made its way into May.  Today is ‘a poem I just read and loved’.

Stank with Sweat

The brave face
I wear is never washed
It stinks with sweat
my mother’s and mine
She taught me how to put it on
to fit my wobbly bones
to be the face that you would know
My brave face
has a smile
it lasts for thirty seconds
and plays back after a minute
My brave face
belongs to my family
I owe it to them
and to my children
the ones I planned to have with you
But you think I do not feel
You should see my eyes buttoned on
my brave face
my brows frown like a powerless child
to remind you that
I am tough
I can show you my face now
how it’s stained with blood
And you would realize
my brave face is what you want to love

– by Nana Nyarko Boateng

with permission from the poet

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