Mother thinks I do not remember her
mother and daughter

Mother thinks I do not remember her anymore.
She thinks I left her behind on leaving home for this city.
There are things one cannot be taught, he learns himself
Just like no one taught the Good Samaritan how to be good.

There are two ends in my body.
One end is home and the other, this city.
Home is where my mother sings her worries and
Whose prayers are invisible halos over my head.
This city is where my head is, and
Sometimes it opens me up like a man opening a disturbed bottle of coke.

Mother,
I remember you each time I wake to the morning noises of this city;
I remember you in the stares of my classmates on walking into my classroom;
I remember you in the smiles of a girl whom I asked out, and has agreed to share my loneliness;
I remember you each time I leave my classroom and return to my apartment
To meet a roommate who is gay, and I think is secretly in love with me;
I remember you in the pages of books I read and dog-ears because of truth;
I remember you in the poems I struggle to write and in the fictions I’m yet to finish;
I remember you when I sleep in the nights with the dying noises of this city;
I remember you also in the nights when I cannot sleep because my shadow drowns.

Mother, do not think too much.
Your son is well and remembers you often
As he dwell in this city filled with fire, water and stone;
In this city that holds him at the centre of everything that is not everything.

 

Every Night

Every night I carry the memories of
this place in my palms, caressing each of its
pages, one by one, to feel them,
maybe for the last time.

Here, one is never sure if he will see night
transform into morning, and morning
into another night, and night into another morning,
for many things are wrong in this place.

I remember that particular evening
you met your friend on one side of the road,
laughing, talking about girls and things you never had with him.
And when there were no more words, he left you with a goodbye.
You smiled as he sailed to the other side of the road.
There, he was circled and cut into unrecognisable limbs
by the herdsmen, like a badly done mosaic.
To you, the goodbye weren’t meant to be the last.

Most times you find a woman rushing
home so that night will not meet her.
Nights are deadly here, very cruel. And
when night meets her, you will find her with cloth
stuffed in her mouth to shut her up from screaming her pains,
or you will find her in the morning
with open thighs and drowned in the lagoon,
or you will find her un-whole:
that is to say some boys had unmade her,
deprived her of the strings that held her together,
or you will find her in pieces with missing parts.

When those with rainbow colours
embedded in their black skins speak out
because they’re tired of the anthology of loneliness
and sorrows of the shadows they read,
they are punctured with threats, stones, burning tires, jail terms
or even kidnapped: ask Romeo, ask Chibuihe, ask Arinze, ask Aghogho.

I am at the last page of memories of this place,
it heavies my palms, heart and head.
I fold it and return to my pillow in hope
that I will defeat the night and live on in this place,
burning incenses for it to someday become
a constellation of pacific shades.

A Home

―for every place struggling to be a home
A home is a place that knows the geometry of your body.
A home is a place where your heart yearns to return.
A home is like a child on whose fingers you find flowery dimples.
A home is never a city where fire grows for all things to die.

But my own home is a different home:
My home is a city where dead bodies grow,
Where houses and schools are brought down and left in ruins,
Where children play in their dreams as playgrounds are turned graveyards,
Where brothers carry dirges in their mouths and sing them like anthems,
Where sisters count on their fingers the darkness that adorns their smiles,
Where mothers are scared to birth, nurse and care or even speak,
And where fathers are too afraid to love, too afraid to live and rest.
My home is a city marked by destruction
Where bombs and shrapnel make themselves an abode.
My home is a city where fire grows for all things to die.

My home is an ocean filled with storms and fear:
You can find in it my sisters in hijabs―
Whose strings are all broken by boys who
Draw semen between their thighs ― and drowned in the lagoons;
You can find in it my brothers in bandannas whose lives and lungs
And livers are smoked and dried by mashed leaves;
You can find in it children who know laughter as strangers and who
Are beaten by hunger and decorated by dirt and are adverts for maladies.
My home is a city where fire grows for all things to die.

Yet, every night I burn incenses before sleep
Hoping that each dawn will some day
Bring a new smile upon my home:
Where people will grow to age; where love will flower and
Where fire will never grow for all things to die.

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