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Photo credit: Camila Damásio. Source: Unsplash.

The stairs

sit between eight rooms,

with the echo of your heartbeat

rolling off the walls.

You will no longer slide down the rails

to the cheer of friends.

It will one day be clear:

this brick and mortar

wasn’t built to hold your dreams,

only to let you have them.

Daddy will need your forgiveness

on the nights he drinks to forget that

he hung a price-tag from your bedroom window,

and put your childhood to sleep on the open market.

But before then,

you must remember that Nwabunie, grandma,

called you ose, pepper,

because you were born for the heat.

So you are in good company:

so allow the burn

so let the dust settle.

Daddy will need the ash for lent.

The pooling in your eyes says

you’ve never been here before,

standing in a room with

your history singed at the edges.

Bear every scar inflicted here

as a rite of passage.

Having no permanent address,

you will call several places home

with a packed suitcase,

always looking for the exit sign

and a reason,

because you were christened for tough times.

This will be the first of many.

Be afraid.

Then move.




Obii is a slam champion. She has performed widely across Nigeria as well as Germany. She is a recurring cast member of the poetry theatre production, “Finding Home”. Her poems have been featured in campaigns for Heritage Bank and The McArthur Foundation, respectively. Her one-woman show, “Swallow”, was commissioned and performed at the Lagos Theatre Festival, Nigeria.

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