Black Poetry Commission: Rizpah Amadasun’s ‘Meanwhile’

Read Rizpah’s poem on the struggle of holding hope and healing in the wake of heartbreak

Meanwhile

Happiness drips intermittently as ice cream off a waffle cone.

The sweetness of flavour tries to overpower the sting of your absence,

Rushing to catch the melting spectacle with my tongue,

I remember the taste of pleasure.

Getting high off the memories it triggers gives me brain freeze,

that doesn’t stop me from licking the ridges for more,

indulging in another portion is merely a distraction I can’t afford,

but I do it anyway.
 
 

Meanwhile, maybe you don’t think of me at all.

Not trapped in a kaleidoscope of ‘what if’s and someday’s’,

forming unhealthy relationships with the things we used to do.

I accept I could be wrong, we remember things differently,

but maybe you haven’t forgotten how our time evaporates as if on a hot summer’s day.

My laughter could be haunting you the same way

every time you touched me still lingers on my skin.

Maybe you regret not sharing your lips with mine,

perhaps ice cream doesn’t taste the same for you too.
 
 

Hope sprinkles unevenly across my heavy healing,

I scream silently as I scoop myself up for another day plagued by cherished memories,

I’m not ready to let go.

Our affections are stained in the fabric of everywhere we were,

the whispers of past conversations caught in the air above the footprints no one else sees.

Crystallised in the bricks and mortar, autumn leaves and every full moon; is us.

I wonder how long I will wait, while I bite my ice cream, staring through the rain at the rainbow, that reminds me of you.

 
 

More about the poet

An Afrocentric creative in paint and spoken word, I hail from the Cotswolds. In art, I am influenced by West African symbolism and the way it tells a story about belief, history, and empowerment. At present my work is mostly confined to canvas where it is inspired by the ideas, concepts and aphorisms in this symbolism. I create rich vibrant portraits full of warmth and the visceral presence of the body.

Where my artwork comes from a place of joy, the poetry that flows out of me comes from a dark capsule full of scars and memories, equally a vibrant existence. My poem ‘Meanwhile’ is about a wave of missing. The precarious stage of heartbreak when the brain feeds us hope when there is none. Where everything taunts us of the loss that is felt now. That pivotal point where you have the decision to either self-destruct or start to heal. Resilience, challenging assumptions, and providing confirmation that all feelings of a Black woman are valid, are themes that reoccur in my writing. Poetry I believe, is such a comprehensive way to communicate how you feel to yourself and others. If words or lines are lost on you, the emotion, the story, and the lesson will still resonate.

The Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum are currently displaying Rizpah’s art residency. She will be performing poetry online at NotYourBabe Festival, 6th-7th March. Follow her on her website www.rizpah.co.uk and follow her Instagram page @rizzle_prints.

Poetry commissioned and edited by Malaika Kegode, Asmaa Jama and Aisha Sanyang-Meek

All photography of the poet by Qezz Gill

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