Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Exif_JPEG_420

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.

 

 

**************

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.

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Ala | By Precious Arinze | Poetry” Subscribe

  1. ezicat 2017/05/22 at 09:45 #

    Wow. Poignant and chilling. We are all, indeed, from the Earth

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

On Confessional Schizo-Poetry and Finding Meaning: In Conversation with JK Anowe, Winner of the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry

jk anowe - graph

JK Anowe, a Nigerian-born poet, holds a BA in French from the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he was awarded […]

Photos | Pages & Palette Hosts Reading of Frankie Edozien’s Lives of Great Men in Abuja

Lives of Great Men - Frankie Edozien at Pages & Palette -- photo by Victor Adewale (9)

Last December, Abuja bookstore Pages & Palette hosted a reading of Chike Frankie Edozien’s memoir Lives of Great Men. Published […]

Mauritanian Blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir Has Now Been in Jail for 5 Years

mohamed mkhaitir

In December 2013, Mauritanian blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir wrote a blogpost criticizing his country’s government for using religion to discriminate against minorities. […]

Read Chapter One of Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities

an orchestra of minorities - graph

Chigozie Obioma’s second novel An Orchestra of Minorities was published this January. As part of The Summer Library’s “selected extracts from […]

Laila Lalami’s Fourth Novel, The Other Americans, Is a Family Saga, a Murder Mystery, and a Love Story

laila lalami - alchetron - graph

Laila Lalami’s new novel is forthcoming on 26 March 2019 from Pantheon, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The 320-page […]

Thursday’s Children: 11 Contributors to Forthcoming Anthology Discuss Experimentation and the Nature of Creative Nonfiction

thursday's children - graph

Thursday’s Children is a forthcoming anthology of personal essays. Co-edited by Adams Adeosun and Bello Damilare, it comes with an […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.