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Roseline Mgbodichinma Anya Okorie: How I Take Flight


Running is not a physical activity
It is how my spirit turns to speed to shame the length of the earth
Running is how I slip from the present into the past
It is how I negotiate my life with dawn
How I beg my eyes to see light+++++because darkness is close
+++++++++++++++++++++Calling me,
Saying I must free fall into a pattern
Threatening to drag me down the paths of
My mother & the mothers before her
Running is how I race my fears
How I refuse to collect the baton
In this relay for my life
Running is how I try to escape
It is my brain processing like a grinding machine
++++++++++++++++++– I am here
Hugging my chest+++clenching my fists in prayer+++waiting
Asking faithless & faithful
That one day I don’t stumble when I take flight
Or discover mid-air that I too
++++++++++++++++++– am leaking from my breasts



Legacies can be things left at leisure
Loosely and unintended
Like my mother’s scarf sleeping on my bed
Just before she passed
Silk & full length –
A fabric for fabricating stories
For truths+++++++for lies

This scarf would testify against me
Talmbout how it was wrap dress
For weekend night runs
And head tie on Sabbath
Each day –
A different type of atonement

It understood silences
Knew how to shapeshift in chaos
Knew how to make warmth for my numb heart
Resting on my shoulder bones – relapse – restitution
It was both scarf and sanctuary

The corporate walls welcome me
& they whisper
Wanting to reveal the secrets
Hidden up in my white sleeves
I appear proper and prim
Skirting away memories of loss
In buttoned-up desires
My scarf twisted into a bow around my neck
Unfastened at the close of work
For quickies +++for hickeys

When in taekwondo class
I tell the instructor
I have come to unbox all the guilt
Refusing to unravel itself in therapy
He hands me my black belt
& I refuse to wear it ++++this is not the end
There is a multicoloured scarf tight on my waist
For beginning +++ for earth +++for danger
To conquer everything that has driven me to wrought

So this is how I know my mother
Is living in dead form
Saltwater free falls from my eyes
And I am looking for it
Do tears disappear when they drop on silk?
+++++++++Or just my mother’s presence thirsting on textile



Cut her vastness into shrink sizes
Till it fits into the proximity of your ego
+++++++++Lay flat her will
Remind her of the old truce;
She must lend your mouth to speak
Cower behind your success
And let you bend her
Into your shadow
When she tries to
Breathe from too much pressing
Glue her down
Women like her have suffered this
Without trying to break free
Mark equal territories
On her body as a reminder
That the pleasure belongs to you
But the serving purpose, hers.
She must feign satisfaction
So that your wounded ego
Does not bleed into her skin
When your bodies intertwine
When you are done
With this crafting
Leave her empty to dry out
Then proceed to make a new vessel



My worst memories form in a small home downtown
There, I saw how quickly womanhood is woven into a child,
How a mad truck does not care for roadblocks on its Journey.
I knew firsthand what it meant to make room
For loss because living and dying felt similar
I lay ajar; the flesh between my thighs became an estuary.

Fingers, crotch & saliva rammed into this estuary,
Moving recklessly like a bumpy ride downtown.
When the thrusting went rough, it was similar –
To forcing bone down the gullet of a child
The soft voice that taught me ABC in my room,
Became the megaphone coercing me into a sacrilegious Journey

I almost choked to death once on this journey
My half-formed wailing mouth; an estuary
Full of wet dreams my father awoke in his room
He put my knees to the floor, forcing my tongue to travel downtown
My taste buds grew disgust for milk as a child
From the store – from his tail, both suddenly tasted similar

I am woman now, thinking back to when nothing was similar
Wish he never took my body on that journey,
That he let me be a pure child
My opening is already metaphor for estuary,
So I turn my body into a meet & greet for all the boys downtown
For their lust, I make room

& though some take me by force in this room
The invasion is nothing similar
To my father’s violation in our small home downtown,
It was an incestuous Journey
Of debauching my legs into a broad estuary.
This is how good-natured girl turns devil child

My thoughts become a slaughter room
Execution meets erasure like an estuary
Home & hell start to feel similar,
So with club in my palm, I embark on the journey
To quicken death for my dirty old man on his sickbed downtown

Poems (c) Roseline Mgbodichinma Anya Okorie
Image by bertvthul from Pixabay (modifed)

Roseline Mgbodichinma Anya Okorie
Roseline Mgbodichinma Anya Okorie
Roseline Mgbodichinma is a Nigerian poet, writer, and blogger. In 2018, she won the audience's favourite award powered by Union Bank and Okadabooks for her short story, Silence that spoke. Her poem, The Giant, was published in the Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 2019 Anthology, and we were superheroes (another poem) was selected by Theresa Lola, the young people’s laureate for London to be featured in the “Say your peace campaign.”

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