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Photo credit: Michael E. Umoh.

In the ruins, I never account for the missing body parts.
Never turn a body over.
To do this is to count the dreams on a face.

 

I always speak about the forms of darkness I carry into these rooms.
I want to tell you always why a carnage of blood is the measurement for transgression.
Never less.
Why on my forehead, large as it is,
I let a preacher draw the shape of a cross every other Sunday.
This is to show that I have not lived through occupations
but my body has been occupied. In my throat, a wind pipe
calibrated with the voices of people gathered around a fire
trying to burn life into dying hands until the blood unsleeps.

And kneeling on velvet altars is a way to pacify this form of carnage.
To perimeter a nightmare in oils from the olives of Gaza
where the air raids do not belong to me in memory or song.

 

I want to be at peace with every definition of myself
when she detonates the bomb strapped to her lower body like a sumabé,
and not a single star falls from the sky.
I want to still love myself when her body parts
mark some unspeakable coordinates there in Bama.
And the invisible river with currents
carrying our fragments away
does not mean this one where, once, a boy put his legs on mine under water.
We were sitting on a barge too busy falling in love
to see a body at sea drifting along a horizon we continued to see
long after we understood that we could no longer reach for it.

 

All of this, a form of silence as three walls
before I hear you flipping the pages of a book
where history is a voice that creeps into us as if we are windows.

Where every hunger imagines its satisfaction without anti-climax.

And everyone hears exactly how a body does not contain its pain
and the songs I want to remind the world to sing
only belong to people in my past.
And so, I forget the words
but the melodies remain like vulnerable ghosts.
I try not to expose them too much to sunlight
and questions about the old wars.

 

 

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

About the Author:

Kechi Nomu was shortlisted for the 2017 Brunel International Poetry Prize. She serves as Managing Editor for the Parrésia Publishers Affiliated poetry press, Konya Shamsrumi. In 2018, her chapbook, Acts of Crucifixion, will be published as part of the New-Generation African Poets Box Set by Akashic Book and the African Poetry Book Fund.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

One Response to “Body Parts | By Kechi Nomu | Poetry” Subscribe

  1. Zino A 2017/08/06 at 11:34 #

    Love the journey this took me on.

Leave a Reply

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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