Father of the Empty Bowl

Ama Codjoe

I am watching the future of your bodymolder. Gristle, wild boar, mole’s fur, applecore, mulberry, wind-downed leaf.By now your cells are forest black earthor the moist dirt in a flower pot.Father, I’ve waded this far in orderto speak to your smallest ear.I’ve come to ask some speechless thing.Time has passed, there are no longerseasons, and I barely recall the namefor water—often when I say blood I meanwater. Maybe I’ve come to ask forgiveness,to properly grieve your fatherlessness . . .It’s hard to tell. My eyes have beenshut for some time. Pieces of me keepbreaking off, shifting, even the youin me has changed. While you cookedoxtail soup, I set the table. You satat the head, sucked the marrow, twirled,licked, and chewed the bone. Father,you left nothing in the bowl becausewhen there was food you ate the foodand brought the bowl like a cup to your lips.And I love like that. I call you fatherbecause my arm is finally long enough to reachacross earlier oceans. Farther, you say,and losing my tongue I stretch faruntil I am sky. Father, I whisper, searchingfor my teeth. Doves, you say. Mourning,I repeat. Let the doves do the calling for me.

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Ama Codjoe is the author of Blood of the Air, winner of the eighth annual Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in April 2020. Ama has been awarded support from Cave Canem, Jerome, Robert Rauschenberg, and Saltonstall foundations, as well as from Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Crosstown Arts, Hedgebrook, and the MacDowell Colony. Her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The CommonSouthern Indiana ReviewMassachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Ama is the recipient of a 2017 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, The Georgia Review’s 2018 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize, a 2019 Disquiet Literary Prize, and a 2019 NEA Literature Fellowship.

Issue 29

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Peter LaBerge

Managing Editor
Garrett Biggs

Editorial Director
Heidi Seaborn

Poetry Editors
Derrick Austin
Wayne Johns
Talin Tahajian

The Adroit Journal (ISSN 2577-9427) was founded in November 2010 by poet Peter LaBerge. At its foundation, the journal has its eyes focused ahead, seeking to showcase what its global staff of emerging writers sees as the future of poetry, prose, and art.

Recently featured in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prizes: Best of the Small Presses, Poetry Daily, Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Teen Vogue, and NPR, the journal has featured the voices of Terrance Hayes, Franny Choi, D. A. Powell, Alex Dimitrov, Lydia Millet, NoViolet Bulawayo, Ocean Vuong, Ned Vizzini, Fatimah Asghar, Danez Smith, and beyond.

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