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Mariam is Memories: A Poem by Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka


Those who own the dead, flip through mind frames to lodge the sun where there had been drowning flood.

Even when Mariam calls the laughter, I see in her face, the vast cemetery of her fallen heroes. Their ghosts are flint-combs of her remnant self. Each eye bat reveals Borno’s carnage.

The hollow smiles forced and hidden tears that trickle behind that scene we did not see.

Mariam is Memories:

The raw pages that stay in her head are the rifle-perforated bodies of her parents. Mother and father had shared the pajamas of love but bullets bullied them apart. Little Binta and Hussein- huge flames claimed them on the noon’s playground. Grandfather, waiting for the muezzin, laughed his last in the inferno. Cousin Timothy, the corps neighbour lay too in blood from visible machete cuts from head to toe.

Blood bath or ash carcasses of beings frittered around signpost where Boko bumped:

Homes shattered and replaced by bones in shriveled heaps. Those were bones, lives, dreams, possessions…reminders of vultures’ feasts, those were bodies and carriers of yesterday’s laughters those were dreams in smokes of hopes, voices once verdant with songs…

The past haunts now, the present ever so hollow with deaths, the future waiting again in the long sleeves of doubts while the flames of government logic are swamped by pond-weighted greed.

They swore to lay the wreaths and resettle the Mariams, hard done by Haram but politics swing on at the IDPs. Love of life always slain in the heated moments of fortune-swashbuckling in pockets.

Now, Mariam is left to think her thought in the tortured remnants of smiles She bares her wounds, fears crawl all her limbs. She keeps the hurricane of hope against the tide of telegraphing deaths.

Her diary reads death hand in hand, grim details of life without love or love with stern suite for suffering and smiling. Mariam is memories, her face is our map, blood littered.

For every jarring song from the bullet, there have been a million Mariams. I thought they were gone but their bullets still echo through our new brambles dwelling, drilling blasting holes into our day and night.

Mariam has the up mooting sun on the debris of memories, memories of horror.

Her smiles light up still the fallow fringes of her mind but in her face, is the question:

when will Haram close these nuzzles that chorus death?

Poem © Ndubuisi Aniemeka
Image: Jon Bunting via Flickr (cropped)

Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka
Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka
Ndubuisi Martins (also called Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka) has had his poems published, or they are forthcoming in many online poetry magazines and journals including, African Writer Magazine, Ngiga Review, Lunaris Review, Wreaths for a Wayfarer, Sorosoke, and African American Review. He has published two collections of poems - One Call, Many Answers (2017) and Answers through the Bramble (2021), which was longlisted for 2022 Pan African Writers Association- PAWA Poetry Prize, English Category. Interested in exploring Anglophone Poetry in what he attempts to theorize as The Signifying Chameleon, Ndubuisi Martins Aniemeka is currently a PhD student in the Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague, the Czech Republic.


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