The poetic persona in both poems is melancholic but nothing short of magical. In “Water is Tasteless to Him That Lives in Peace” Aiyejinna Abraham O. writes about terrorism in such a way that we are beginning to think that when a person rummages through the ruins of a bombed home one might find poems, and not just charred bodies and ashes. Aiyejinna’s poetry holds a lot of promise.

– Editorial Team

Water is Tasteless to Him That Lives in Peace

The showerhead hoists a towel torn by flaming fingers
and the bathtub cups the nakedness of a charred woman.

In the bathroom with broken bricks and burnt-paper smell,
I s p r e a d my tongue under the shower waiting for

drops but despair corrodes my tongue after two minutes.
With soot on my right palm and a cup noosed by the thumb

and forefinger of my left, I scour the shrivelling street for
water – staggering through debris of buildings, bones and

bodies. I’m afraid to die, more afraid to live.
Tenth house after mine, has smoke waving over it like

a loose black turban in the wind. I see an orange flame –
quarrelling with curtains, sofas and rafters in the house.

And one by one, it beats them to humility. Black dust.
The naked street basking in the caustic sun – dehydration

crawling sluggishly from sleeping grasses to my sleeve;
the wells are choked with stones, taps are rusting brown.

I inhale smoke and exhale stones. ‘susurrus’ –
I hear the claws of rats on dried paper in a hut – the fifteenth

house away from mine. Opening the door with my body, I
see a clay pot sitting at the brown wall almost camouflaging.

My tongue spreading under the shower flashes. My heart thuds
and the walls echo. Approaching the pot like an old man, I look

into its eyes and … I see myself looking at me from a rippling
mirror. Cold fingers touching me from head to feet, I gasp.

The cup quivers in my hand, evoking little tides as I fetch
water to drink for the first time in six hours after Boko Haram

cooked my street and roasted our bathroom. My tongue burning
from coolness, throat broadening, eyes widening as water slithers

through my veins. I exhale, then, begin to cry.
I wish my dad was alive to give me a hug;

I wish my mom chose not to take her bath seven hours ago.

Mum, an Old Bottle Forbids New Wine

I was taught/ that an old bottle forbids new wine.
I still ask why the grave keeps the good ones.

The cemetery holds my footprints on its chest.
The coral bells at your feet wear my body’s smell.

Every morning grief wakes me up, holds my hands
and leads me to this place – trampling on dried yellow

leaves. He drops me at your feet and watches
how I wash them with sea water. Whispers washing

away from my lips to the breeze and he wipes my
tears with the back of my palm. The silver ring

you showed me when we searched for hope at night,
hasn’t appeared since you left. The house is now full of

echoes – I call your name, the walls respond. The joy
in dad’s eye is now a lit candle in the wind. It’s tough

to make him smile. When he does smile, it’s in a visitor’s
presence; maybe he doesn’t want to be seen as weak.

Mum, I still hear the pastor’s words echoing:
‘an old bottle forbids new wine’ ‘an old bottle forbids…’

The grave is an ancient bottle. It holds Adam’s wine.
And you, mother, you’re nothing but the sweetest wine.

Didn’t the pastor say “the dead shall rise on the last day”?
Or will today become yesterday again? Will it?

About The Author

Aiyejinna Abraham O. is a 19-year-old Nigerian poet. He studies industrial chemistry at undergraduate level. He lives in Sokoto State, where he schools and presently writes from. When he is not reading or writing poems, he listens to music or plays videogames.