In Northern Ghana, she says, the Ga hold a naming ceremony
for every newborn, eight days after a mother gives birth at home.
It’s the first time the child sees the outside world, now limitless,
like an alligator emerging from a sewer, crawling out from the deep,
into the world, onto the street, its tail knocking down recycling bins,
awkward, like a curvy flyer with a small bladder in economy class,
or a student with ear buds giving a piggy-back ride to a stuffed
backpack in the ATM line; or a bro spreading on the subway;
the eyes weak, blind, adjusting to light, to whatever this world
is on the other side of the pipe. Adinto: a debut, an “Outdooring.”
The Ga say the week after a baby is born, it isn’t yet human;
it’s outside the body, yet it’s as if it’s inside — not a fetus, a non-
human thing, but a stranger, a visitor from beyond, a God
in the womb — and for a week, in the world. A foreign creature.
The passing through isn’t sudden, isn’t infant, isn’t death,
because the thing is an orphan without a name. It survives
in the sewer, in the deep indoors, empty in front of the beam
of the flashlight, beneath the world of the city — because birth
is like dying, expansive, the head in the shape of a balloon,
caught in a storm drain, circling, never having to exhale.