Showing you round a city
There is a road, red with dreams, that carries
the strangeness of your blood and names and truth.
Perhaps what holds beauty to us when the last drop of blood
of our veins lacks wings to fly us back to back to our feet
is the yearning of our hearts; yearning for the wombs
and tunnels and seeds and blood that have locked us up
in the tone that sounds like the melodies of happier days.
Here is language, here is a body, here is memory: souvenir
of long buried names.
My body is a city of scars and dust; a wall of soot and cracks;
a name which homeless natives are called. Let’s take a walk.
Look: there is this kind of silence that moves, with appendages
within me, with the upheaval of an overfilled lantern through
my bones, mutes every audible mouth and a dumb world is gained.
What is hunger in a dumb world, if not the collapsed wall in the
eyes of a man shouting “fire”, whose grief is the continuation
of an endless sea?
The thing is: life may not be the aqueduct that conveys one to
a destination, but a sea that keeps drowning one till he amasses
enough breath for another and another and another beginning–
that is to say, healing is a careful song on replay, as well as
wounds, as well as grief.
Here is a man of sour wonders; a sore in the throat of history.
Here is his son: a leaf detached from its hold, singing at the doorstep
of the earth, at the door of his lost mother’s heart; forcing
happiness through his oesophagus.
This is yearning: when we are lost in desires, we make home
names and memory, and burn faces into fancies.
See: the teenage girl across the field is a museum of which only artifact
is a burning fear, a perception that her world could break off
midway to attaining a dream, and that the girl she was made of
might be washed away by the voyages that encircle her everyday.
This is her prayer: after staring at the ruins in her laps, she mumbled,
Oh God, make me a spring that never runs still, keep me alive
to perfect all wrongs.
Sometimes, the words of our mouths are the pills needed to gain healing.
We are just the water to drive them to the right place.
Bareness as inheritance
After Safia Elhillo
what can be used to cover our nakedness when
our garments are like mirages being moved
closer to how many times should we pray should
prayers hide or erase the shame of being bare
from birth by heritage the fathers of
our nests are forgotten ancient mythology the names
of heroes of our history are the names of aliens
who stripped our ancestors of their tongues & skin
who whispered into their ears the language of nakedness
there is no bareness without weakness there is
no true history carved from the history of
past colonizers nakedness is the thirst for the taste of
cultures which are foreign & the offspring of these bare mothers
with the burnt jaws of history carry in them
the inventions of false origin & the signs of
a wrong nation
Nwaoha Chibuzor Anthony is an Igbo-born poet whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Stockholm review, 20.35 Africa anthology Vol III, Praxis magazine, Jalada Africa, Sub-Saharan magazine and elsewhere. He lives in Nsukka, Southeastern Nigeria. His microchap, If You Would Hear Me, is forthcoming from Giallo lit.