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the truth of your history is learned by mouth:
the Kano killings, the Asaba massacre, ethnic cleansing,
books will pass off as a civil war all the hurried graves,
the many unreturned, callous erasure of branches
of family trees.

what you know about where you come from
is fading to the background of history’s amnesia
for stories inked in blood.

you never really survive the death of a loved one.

catalogue all they left behind: your grandfather’s name,
the bloodied half of a yellow sun, uncertain roots, a bag
of Biafran coins—worthless souvenirs of a premature
country, bitterness coursing through veins.

there is no exorcising the ghosts the body inherits.

you will not cry at your father’s funeral—
think of your silence as a birthright, spend
your whole life practicing opening up, shutting out,
until grief and healing become one sound,
and it is quiet where you are.

when you make love, moan in your mother’s tongue.
when someone asks you where you come from,
say Ala,
point at the earth,
remind them it is everywhere.

you never really survive the death of a loved one.

make an altar of your sadness, take communion there;
pray only to your father’s name; if he is willing,
you will make it through another day.

 

 

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About the Author:

IMG_20170107_151713-2Precious Arinze is a Nigerian Poet, freelance writer, and undergraduate student of Law. She dreams of one day having a professional career where all she does is eat. She tweets at @TheAddlepate.

*****

Post image by Amaka Jovita Ezeuchu.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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