Dear Ebelenna

To begin is to step back into fire, but I will begin anyway.

You once brought honey to their lips, and they bit your finger
and told God sorry it looked like sugarcane.

Now, every night your chest weighs too much with grief
so I slit it with a knife to search for stones.

I am sorry. I am sorry despite the green in my eyes.

Forgive me for all the stones I threw at you and called them apples. Keep your head up because you paint better than many gods. For instance, the artworks on the wall.
For instance, your flat, a chapel full of women on their knees.

Forgive me because I opened the door and now look at you
folded in your lightless bedroom like the flag of a country defeated in a war.
Christ, is that watery stain on your shaking hands sweat or teardrops?
Come, Ebelenna. Don’t turn to the window to hide those pink drugs:
the thunder and lightning might mistake your tear-soaked face for broken glass.
Ebelenna –
Take my guitar and play this song of forgiveness.
A camera on a table full of sad poems. Please take it and capture that sunflower
stamped into dust in the mirror facing the stars and the moon.

Take this lit candle, kneel and let us pray:
Oh Lord, teach me how to stop staring at the blood trickling down on all my photographs
like the Holy Communion in cups of several colours.

Teach me how to stop looking over my shoulder at my house set on fire
by my friends. Today I had to use the dictionary because I can no longer spell the word.
No, I’m good at English. So good my words fall on ears and the stunned owners mistake them for gold. Which is to say I am a garden without flowers. Which is to say I need you, O Lord, to teach me how to run into a Cathedral without a torch. Help me lock the door because my hands are shaking. My hands are shaking because the crying voice of my lovely mother has pushed me into a cave full of ghosts.
Teach me how to touch my wounds and call them a Paradise. Teach me how to play my piano, dusty and unused since 2009.
Teach me that my shadows on the wall are not my shadows. Teach me theology, teach me psychology, but first of all teach me geography: I want to locate the road leading to the river where the world might mistake my tears for rain falling on my face.
Teach me how to stop listening to songs trembling
with the stories of dead bodies.
Which is to say they turn me into a poet.
Which is to say the world can see all the bullets in my chest.

But I dance despite the bird dying in my throat
despite the drums shattering like a wineglass
despite my clock rolling into an ocean
despite the voice of an orphan at sea drowning and begging our Lord Jesus Christ for His hand

But you have begun to cry again, Ebelenna. Aren’t you too old for this? Take my hand
and let’s step into the rain.
I hope the waters will become a river
carrying us to the moonlit grave of our grandmother.

O windy rain, not a river, but we might catch a fish falling from the sky of blood-stained pillow adrift and eat it with our dead grandmother.
Drop that thing hidden behind you and shift for the sun is about to stream in through the window. Show me your hands.
Jesus Christ, blood. Blood. Why all this blood, Ebelenna?
Take my handkerchief and use it to clean the blood, clean the tears. Use it and say it’s okay. Say it’s okay despite the glasses of beer shattering in your chest.




Photo by Navneet Kaur from Pexels