Two Poems By Nigerian Poet Aiyejinna Abraham O.
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.
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