the scent of mother’s prayer cracks
the morning open. in the kitchen, the plates
are piled into a hill, the rinsing bowl echoes
an emptiness that tumbles into my throat,
the papers folded in the space between
mother’s legs ferries the news of a soldier
lost in combat. lost in flight, her uniform
divided among the rebels, her body split
into portions. my mother calls her a stone,
precious, tossed into the ocean bed. my mother
has a name for everything – fate for the evening
a stray bullet spilled her husband, light
for her heart a portrait of loneliness. i squat
to accommodate the weight of her grief
and all the lights pouring through the windows
merge into a silhouette of my father’s memory.
we have begun to learn to number
the bodies with a dispassionate
monotone. i have emptied
my loneliness into a cup that now
brims over and yet the vacuum stitched
into my skin echoes like an alarm. i do not know
how an aubade grows into an elegy,
only that each morning we scoop fragments
of loss into our bathwater, only that the bodies
have stretched into a pile, only that we moonwalk
through the days a worse version
of ourselves. death is so thick we are unable
to bear its weight on our tongues so we modify
the news headlines, we call the dead an assembly
of birds with clipped wings, a parade of people
locked into liminal spaces.
we gather the night breeze into the hollow
of our hearts – a limp longing
for salvation, for escape.
Michael Emmanuel is an Associate Editor at Praxis Mag. His works have appeared in Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Praxis Mag, Kreative Diadem, Creative Freelance Writerz, and perhappened mag. He was the winner of the Quramo Writers Prize in 2018. He writes poems on Instagram @the_mike_emmanuel. He lives in Lagos and is currently a Chemistry student.
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