Etymology of a Mood

Ama Codjoe

Sometimes I feel like a goddess
with many hands . . . except human.
One hand is amber-gloved, dripping
with honey, and two constantly shoo
the flies. Two hands play “Miss
Mary Mack” while two pairs clap
to “Rockin’ Robin.” In my hand
a dictionary, in my hand the ash
of want, in my hand a teacup
whose emptying bears my face,
in my hands a firefly, a sprig
of rosemary between my thumb
and forefinger, in my hand
a pinwheel resembling the dahlias
in my hand. What is the word
for this feeling? What is the root
of that word? Tell me
what to call a twin who survives
the other—not widow,
not orphan—and why light defines
a shadow. Tell me what year the sun
will fail or when the word moons
began to convey the passage
of time. Sometimes I fall asleep
petting my hair with six hands.
By now, all the hairs in this house
are mine. At night I hear
the spider’s velvet legs crossing
the web that, if disturbed,
will stick to the fingers of one
of my hands. My right hand
holds a bell the left hand rings.
The last of my hands: I am wringing.

Last updated August 19, 2022