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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.