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Image by Woman caballero via Flickr.

 

I live with the words of many men
Going in my head.
I have become attached to syntax,
To larynx. I have become squeezed every hour
in that small space between the heart and lungs,
Hungering to nail myself to a history
Whose colour I know but whose sounds
I have yet to learn.

I become the soymilk woman
Into whose tenderness I snuggle,
Lulled to sleep by the rise and fall
in her stories—stories that smell
Of milk-sweetened pap, and chapped
hands drawing God’s halos in the evening.

Am I not so blessed?
Has God not filled my hands?
She says every time.

Her stories begin
Like kindness, a firm emergence—
Everything begins without words, without sounds.
First as the graying scapula on her yellow chest,
And then as a prayer you don’t have to listen too hard to hear:
St. Anthony of Padua crying for the lost
From a place where skin meets bone and blood.
Then it continues as a tilting towards history,
As a titter echoing all the men
Talking in your head.

So all the echoes never go away
But are wrapped up—her gift to you
For when she will no longer be there,
For when you would look through
Falling rain with longing
as aching people do.

 

 

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

About the Author:

Ndukwu Joseph Omoh is a Nigerian writer living in Benin City, Nigeria. His work has been published in Saraba, Africanwriter.com and the Kalahari Review. He tweets @Joseph_Omoh_ .

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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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