You spend the middle of June like Molly Bloom, home.
You distance yourself, six feet, from the myriad of
bodies before your house swallows you, Lestrygonians
lurking, hovering. You advance your Ithaca island,
with the air of a soldier going to battle. You dread this
but, you are between Scylla and Charybdis.
You would be in Ireland now, walking the Sandycove beach
with Dubliners but lestrygonians cancelled the Lagos
flights out. You paint this loneliness till you make the gloom, bloom.
Your eyes glue to the gospel of the Ulysses and Linati Schema while
you sip a mug of hot cocoa, a thick bed of foam atop, or a glass of Burgundy
with ice or a pint of beer. Some days you dress as Leopold Bloom, fitting the
Edwardian costume, your soft, full breasts disappear beneath the tight striped vest,
virgin afro hair compressed under the straw boater hat.
You eye the crinoline and corset on the mannequins, you would look like Circe in it.
Undecided, this? or that? Soliloquizing. You grab grandfather’s walking stick.
Grandfather, an Eumaeus figure who taught you to shoot and pray,
catechism. Nostalgia warms you, at fourteen he named you Telemachus
You kneel, whispering the first decade, clutching the Coptic silver rosary.
Pray for us sinners, now at the hour of our death.
You cross yourself, signum crucis, when human contact
is the mouth of a lion or the venom of a snake in your blood.
Alone we stand, together, we drop, like flies to insecticide.
You call this, the new normal, how I keep you safe, and vice versa to
keep the world safe. In the Cyclops of quiet, you know loneliness intimately,
It resides with you in Ithaca, over you in your blanket, under you in the bedspreads,
Days fastening it like a corset, you wear solitude well. You color silence, writing
a memoir of your heroic severance from touch or a poem or both.
You soak in foam and soap all your hidden secrets till they scent of frankincense
and chamomile, till you are born again. You write of your lonely odyssey,
meditate, of things left unsaid, things left undone, of your time
that is not your own, of your life too, that is also not your own
for it is not yours to give or take. The sirens call your philanthropist lover’s touch,
how he explores the labyrinth.
How your skins kiss, your silhouette, a prayer of bodies.
You blame the solitude, you blame the intricacy of
the Oxen of the sun, you blame the quiet, you blame the dark clouds
You anticipate a blend of white and blue, for a sea of skies.
Until then, you paint alone, well.
*This poem was shortlisted for Bloomsday Poetry Competition sponsored by the Embassy of Ireland, Nigeria. More details here.