Cynthia Parker-Ohene

Once Upon A Forever

Twenty-six years after my banishment my father laid in his covid chamber and right before he decided to mute his words and after he blamed me for walking toward a life away from his judgements and long before his rambling monologues on how at sixteen it was the last time he recognized his sweet grrrl who had become too opinionated too caught up in standing flat-footed in my voice and remembering past interludes where I refused to give in because as he said I’m the daddy in a hard-shelled pronouncement and I refused to be afraid to lose his love anymore and because he disowned me and left me to die in a hospital and nursing home where I did not resemble the others in age race and social economics he could walk away and not feel me his firstborn in the bowels of diabetic unconsciousness and where I yelled for my mother who could not come and my daughter in high school at home trying to mother herself because her mother was marinating in a sugar coma and I realized then that I was unlovable and rancid from the years of hard labor being a daughter to a father who could not love me the way I needed to be in an unconditional baby grrrl forever love I see in other black grrrls and when my daughter and grandson said I love you mommy I love you mimi each night before bed and just because I was something to them I remembered my mother and her love even beyond and even because because



Cynthia Parker-Ohene is an abolitionist, cultural worker, and therapist. She is an MFA graduate in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California, and the Chester Aaron Scholar for Excellence in Creative Writing. She is a winner of the San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press Poetry Prize. Her recent work has appeared in Best American Poetry, 2022, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily. The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Kweli, and Green Mountains Review, West Branch, among others. She has received fellowships and support from Tin House, Callaloo, Juniper, Hurston-Wright Foundation, and elsewhere, as well as work in the anthologies, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. She is also a Poetry Reader for The Adroit Journal. Her book Daughters of Harriet is published by The Center for Literary Publishing/Colorado State University. More information at