the afterworld sea

there was a water song that we sang
when we were going to fetch river from the river,
it was filled with water sounds
& pebbles. here, in the after-wind, with the other girls,
we trade words like special things.
one girl tells me “mai” was her sister’s name,
the word for “flower.” she has been saving
this one for a special trade. I understand
& am quiet awhile, respecting, then give
her my word “mai,” for “water,”
& another girl tells me “mai” is “mother”
in her language, & another says it meant,
to her, “what belongs to me,” then
“belonging,” suddenly, is a strange word,
or a way of  feeling, like “to be longing for,”
& you, brother, are the only one,
the only one I think of  to finish that thought,
                to be longing for
                mai brother, my brother
More Poems by Aracelis Girmay