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Two Poems By Chisom Okafor

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

Love Poem: Supersedure

When the queen of a bee colony becomes too old or unproductive, the worker bees dispose of her by clustering around her in a tight ball until she overheats and dies.

─ National Geographic.


At nightfall, as always, I meet him

just at the foot of Carter bridge, brown skin;

catching the receding sun.

His eyes rush out to meet mine in the soft light,

just before they wander off again far into this body of water as if to drag the eye of the waves into the sunset.

In his head is the door of a deserted house left unlatched, a window open to the sea upon which are stranded canoes fastened by ropes kept supple with grease, to piers

here in this place of waters.

He searches for answers to a prayer long lost to the winds and the still chorus of water creatures below,

running marathons, seeking to break free off the surface.

Even journeying is a form of prayer.

Perhaps this wayfarer has come a long way,

shedding layers of skin already heavy with the fatigue of fleeing.

This tongue, hidden in a body that has known the weight

of many morning years and now in its evening years is burdened by its own shadow.

This twisted mouth that has known love like a salmon knows the damp air of rivers, of another man waiting for a lover who left and never returned.

How long do we have until the things that guard us start to kill us?


Effervescence

Over a dinner table at an LGBTQ ‘sex re-orientation’ centre in Lagos, Nigeria

A friend of my friend

sits at the other end of the table,

pondering on the mystery

of birds singing duets in a key.

I presume; how this call and echo work,

which means thrushes follow,

like all particle physicists,

the basic theory of subatomic particles

with emphasis on their Greek roots:

atoms: to be indivisible. Uncuttable.

Friend of my friend says something

about my lack of table elegancies

which translates to apparent temerity

in the face of war, by which he means:

in the way I cut through

blocks of grilled beef hidden

in my serving of entrée

with a certain vengeance.

But this is my way

of cutting through anger,

as though it were pills

forced down a child’s throat at daybreak.

But it’s sundown

and I must not mention

words by their names

for fear of the dead and dying

and the mob outside; awaiting my coming out.

But I want to look into the eyes

of my table-mate and whisper:

'hear me out!

there is a bubble in my mouth,

so defiant it could raise a dead man.'

Outside, the birds cover the trees

with soft chatter, and

I’m wondering why

no one has ever tried

to decipher the mystery

of sex and same-feathers

as it should be in their heads.

And I want to say:

you should know what I was,

how I lived before now.

I am all that you dare not see,

a requiem you don’t want

to recite on the streets at nightfall.

You should see a body open itself

unto itself,

to greet the departing wind at sundown

like a prayer offered to a flowing-river-god.

Here, at this table,

I cut through food with riotous grief,

sup on my tears.

I am a drowning

yet an awakening,

a sprawling

yet a rising;

chasing after a wonderment

of stars in full bloom; emergent.

From the tornado in my bones

to the luxury of healing.


About The Poet


Chisom Okafor, Poet and Nutritionist, was shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Award for Poetry in 2018 and the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2019. His works have been published or are forthcoming in Praire Schooner, the Indian Journal of Literature and Aesthetics, Rattle, Palette Poetry, Frontier, SAND Journal, Adda, The 2019 Gerald Kraak Anthology (The Heart of the Matter), Kikwetu, The Rising Phoenix Review, The Single Story Foundation Journal, Praxis, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is currently co-editing 20:35 Africa, an anthology of contemporary poetry.

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