“Fulfillment” + “I Tame Grief” by Nwaoha Chibuzor Anthony
Within me lies a delicate flower burning without flame,
a city rereeling its wildness into the pockets of my heart,
a rind restrengthening its communion with a tree.
It was a time like old kindergarten singsong
a day which a termitarium fell & broke
his body was a tent of offering where endless mercy was
put to place in the soft heart of a child
his life was love, was songs, was sorrow that shocked, that shrunk
away the enlivening tenderness he housed.
Those nights, he would kneel arear of his self-built throne
piercing the silence of the house with the grievous songs
which he mumblingly yodeled
a high sea flowing beyond banks, beyond restrictions.
the house drowned in tears
I don’t have this body but a thing owning lives within me,
a burning evoking a dead love, even though the
boundaries of this love are not visible
& I carry this love on my name like an epithet-
to love things only broken & dead
Twice, he was found at the village stream
loosening the tremor beneath him
but it seemed yellow leaves can’t be green again
At times, you do not let yourself rest until
those flames within you leave you to drown in water
On his dying bed,
he filled the room with his lachrymose yodels,
with sounds, dead & dying
spun me into a slice of his sorrow,
a petal of discontentment
I open my ears
to feel my breath receiving his death in manifolds
but it seemed amber leaves can never be yellow again
On the moribund hour,
he asked for my hand
While he buried a prayer of love & mercy inside of me,
we bore rivers from the eyes
& these rivers met
& at that confluence
was a drowning child
calling out for help
& Grandpa said: Son, open your heart & save a soul
His wrist dropped beside my thighs
& Since then, he never yodeled.
the amber leaves dried.
I Tame Grief
Memory can be a bird singing from the homes
within us into the ears of the ones we loved,
who stay across the seven rivers of our cities
& grief can be the melody that comes
with the song, a bitter soup piercing
at the nadir of our tongues, a deer wandering
down into the altars of our widowed heart,
praying emptiness into the ruins we keep trying to fix.
What is our fate,
if the ceasefire of grief is death, silence?
What is/are our dance step/s,
If the melody of memory is the claws of an erne scratching at our beautiful skin?
Grandma is dead
This bird sings through the path of derailing trains,
keen at destroying the warmth inside of me,
eager to multiply these stingy echoes of a wild room.
I don’t know. I don’t know what to make out of these shards,
these seamy breaks of myself, leading me through the
endless aqueduct of memory.
What is grief, if not your broken body fighting a war against
its own loss & its own vacuum?
I’m a masked beauty,
a rainbow taffeta deprived of fresh air.
I have that dark deer still grazing deeper
into my deforested heart, still eating those growing
buds that strive to live, still straining multiple nightmares.
My home is filled with nightmares.
I want to surrender to this loss,
to create a home out of my vacuum for this wandering deer.
I want to look into my locket
& never feel those claws tearing me apart.
Nwaoha Chibuzor Anthony is an Igbo-born poet whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Headline poetry and press, 20.35 Africa Anthology, African writer, Kalahari review, Art lounge, Nantygreens, Konya shamsrumi, The Stockholm review, Eboquills, Praxis magazine, Afritondo, Eunoia review & elsewhere. He lives in Orlu, a sleepy city in the Southeastern part of Nigeria.
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