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.
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.