tonight, i pledge to acknowledge the tenderness
of the moon; to see it, hold it, embrace it, and
(re)affirm that not all nights are lightless.
i promise to believe that a poet – on this side of the globe
can look, look again, and
see the flower growing amidst thorns.
that a girl exiting her body in a sea of despair would
recall a poem and find within its lines an entrance to
keep on keeping on.
that tonight, a boy won’t stand before the mirror and see
nothing. no, he’d see literature. he’d see the fullness of creativity on
two feet. he would see lines waiting to light up peoples’ worlds.
yes, for tonight permit me to be an exhumer;
let me go digging everywhere my hopes are
slain, buried. in the street where a boy is bewilderingly
searching for himself under roofless structures and falling bridges,
in the house where a mother keeps salty vigils, waiting
for young leah to return home in one piece.
in schools where young adults wear sleepless nights many nights
yet uncertain whether everything will pay off tomorrow,
in the home where a family gathers around the
dinner table, and has grace for dinner.
in ballot boxes that have become slaughterhouses for
tonight, i have decided to believe that tonight isn’t
the end. i’ve decided to pick up this flag of
green and blood-stained white and drown it in
a sea of hope, even though salty. i’ll leave it there for
as long as i can. i’ll leave it there until me, my children,
their children, and the generation after them learn to wear their
names boldly. Chisom, Nkeiruka, Modúpéoreóluwa, Anímáshashun,
then there would’ve been a cleansing. not like every lightless night
would’ve expired, but that even in the darkest dark, every heart would
have mastered the art of treating a wounded flag without ending with the night –
would’ve known the difference between the salty waters of hope, and that of
despair, and pick the former, and wait… wait for dawn… or the moon.