“appraisal for grief” by Dipe Jola
i find it hard to unfold my grief into poems. water flowing inward like the ocean convulsing in itself. poems are voiceless utterances. I reach out to pluck grief from the newscaster’s tongue, from the moonless sky or the throttling river. grief is not rotten oranges washed off the shore. it is not the reflection in one’s home glistening like a crusade slamming you into a blood festival. grief is reaching out to empty dried fruits on the farm. grief is liberation, I say again — reaching out to your mother’s face or pale hands, lifting a kiss off your lover’s lips, strutting through an archive of pain, even when the wound ruptures like mines beneath grass, is liberation. teaching the sky the etymology of nights; fireflies cackling; rivers flowing inwards; mothers reaching daughters; brothers reaching mothers; daughters reaching fathers; liberation. unfolding is an art i lose edge over— a wildfire does not open into a river. a bird does not rest in the open sky. in this poem, i am reaching out to my mother but this is not grief. i hadn’t learnt to talk before the bus took me home.
Dipe Jola is a poet from Lagos. Her works can be read on Kalahari Review, Echelon Review, Turnpike Magazine, African Writer, Synchronized Chaos, and elsewhere. She’s one of the contributor to Momento: an Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry (Animal heart Press, 2020), edited by Adedayo Agarau. She was the First runner up for the Eriatar Oribhabor Poetry Prize, 2018. Can be reached via Twitter @jola_ng
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