Every night I carry the memories of
this place in my palms, caressing each of its
pages, one by one, to feel them,
maybe for the last time.
Here, one is never sure if he will see night
transform into morning, and morning
into another night, and night into another morning,
for many things are wrong in this place:
I remember that particular evening
you met your friend on one side of the road,
laughing, talking about girls and things you never had with him.
And when there were no more words, he left you with a goodbye.
You smiled as he sailed to the other side of the road.
There, he was circled and cut into unrecognisable limbs
by the herdsmen, like a badly done mosaic.
To you, the goodbye wasn’t meant to be the last.
Most times you find a woman rushing
home so that night will not meet her.
Nights are deadly here, very cruel. And
when night meets her, you will find her with cloth
stuffed in her mouth to shut her up from screaming her pains,
or you will find her in the morning
with open thighs and drowned in the lagoon,
or you will find her un-whole:
that is to say some boys had unmade her,
deprived her of the strings that held her together,
or you will find her in pieces with missing parts.
When those with rainbow colours
embedded in their black skins speak out
because they’re tired of the anthology of loneliness
and sorrows of the shadows they read,
they are punctured with threats, stones, burning tires, jail terms
or even kidnapped: ask Romeo, ask Chibuihe, ask Arinze, ask Aghogho.
I am at the last page of memories of this place,
it heavies my palms, heart and head.
I fold it and return to my pillow in hope
that I will defeat the night and live on in this place,
burning incense for it to someday become
a constellation of pacific shades.
Last week, the television woke up with
pictures and headlines of butchered men, women and children
carpeting the terrains of villages, soaking earth with crimson.
The television deemed some herdsmen at work.
We all sat—Father, Mother, two Uncles and I—
before the television baking emotions on our faces.
Father knitted his anger in high pitch.
Mother countered and supported with quick caresses.
Uncle 1 analyzed, Uncle 2 sub-analyzed and prophesied.
I wore questioning stares as I shelved the news in my head
and bore great heaviness in my heart.
Poems © Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto