Chukwu Emmanuel: On This Side, I Call My Body A New Name
my therapist calls me fragile/
meaning after she checks on me/
she still concludes i’m broken.
– for N.
I have never been afraid to tell my story/maybe this way I will know this body better/& my fears made easy and accessible/like how it is a natural way to retrospect/
Like how I’m trying to reach into the future with my eyes/meaning I still see myself/ trying to accept who I am/meaning that some sins divide my body/ into unequal halves/ My therapist asks me/
How often do I try to hold this beast in my chest?/
She doesn’t know/ that bodies are containers for holding sins/that bodies are a storyline for bearing broken boys/I stand before my parents and refuse to open my skin/I know what condemnation does to a body/
I know how they will never believe/ that my body
a layered capsule/ does not know how to hold against the mechanism of explosion/ I do not often condemn/
I think of many things that names me beautiful/
I also think of what names me ugly/ I think of this story again/ & I wonder if my therapist would not sense my lies/ What we often hide, sometimes pushes us away/
On a Monday morning/ My therapist calls me fragile/
Meaning after she checks on me/ she still concludes me broken/I do not know how to tell her/ that My body is trying to reflex/that my demons are becoming weaker/ that I am trying to accept rejections/that I try to see/ if saltwater is also fit for drinking/ You may not understand my body/it’s a delicate thing/ It is a glasshouse/ it is home to past and present/
In everything we call sin, there is truth/ There is a god weighing us as options/& there is another boy/ trying to know what stopped His father abruptly/I do not know either/ You may not know what leaves a broken pot in shreds/
but you may want to know/ how a broken thing must be fixed/ you also want to know how a body hibernates/
You also want to know/ why girls do not often tell people of their stigma/ because nights are strangers/ We cannot make her friends/ we only sit before our mirrors/ & reflect on the list of things/ that breaks and mends us again.
Chukwu Emmanuel C is a Nigerian and a medical student at the University of Calabar. Longlisted for NSPP 2019, second runner – up for the Sevhage non – fiction prize, shortlisted for the Benue literary poetry prize 2019. He has featured in many magazines like Praxis Magazine, Ngiga Review, Kahalari Review, and forthcoming. When not writing, he enjoys solitude.
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