A boy is a Half-formed Thing
I remember my father, in small voices – Peter Akinlabi
It feels just like yesterday,
I was trying to empty the commitment of a girl into the part of me
that still kept childhood toys, bicycles and elastic things.
Don’t let anyone fool you,
the architecture of a boy has no roofing,
and the floor of the heart are interlocking tiles of
grief and fingers.
I stand on the part of history,
where hierarchy is an expanding diaphragm.
I travel through
and it’s the same thing:
Every man’s family name is a debt; one hand clawed,
the other stretched to salt.
How else do you explain these deformities?
Why do I still mishear parties as partings?
Why else is my belly round as an ant’s?
Why do I share their strange propulsion for sweet things and things
that die from it.
Why do I scatter and regroup for what usurps the hierarchy between the dead,
the living, and the more aware?
The characters in my nightmares are shapeshifting again;
The masquerades have become cheap monks,
the crucifix, hanging from them upside down
like the calligraphy of childhood.
The prayer, which was once a gun
has now become my father.
This is how the earth and I bargain her harmony,
it is how my body’s still growing to fill her oversized coffin.
This is how a man fights:
He dives into water with broken limbs, humming a dirge
The sea bends, stretches herself and whispers
won’t you rather grow fins and learn the ways of water?
Limbs are nothing but extensions of frail frames and burning cities
She kisses the dark off his bones and calls him Amphibian – Survivor of war under water
This is how men know to fight –
Keeping in touch with pain like a woman under an itching wig
My grandfather fought this way too,
he spoke more of dying things than the living, and the posture they wear when dying
He said his skin was a little city,
and the birthmarks were candles that led home.
And by home, he meant everything that lives under the skin.
Today is Friday,
and in the dark of the night, a man will go in search of love
and will find it in bottles,
in between the thighs of a woman, where blood and tiny stones mix
He will forget his lips on her bosom and carry her face home
This is what it means to make the map for loss
You have to get lost to find yourself, they say
So the healing in finding begins here too –
The healing of finding the music that once blessed our tongues before it fell from us
Which of us haven’t suffered from this?
Picking our skins littered where they shouldn’t
and naming the songs brewing under our tongues
Will the rhythm taste like home again
and our feet find the magic that once made the land her place?
These days it’s hard to tell between poetry and prophecy.
Poems © Obinna Chukwu
Image: Julien Tromeur from Pixabay remix