On the bank, I watch the river’s mouth
drag the brown leaves falling off coconut trees
angling on the riverbed, away.
This must be what time does
to memory, pulls at it, yanks what is let go off.
The wet wind grazes my skin & I keel
into that morning in my tiny room
on that dusty street off College road
where you straightened the creases of my white shirt,
fastened the buttons of my plaid jacket,
the packed bags staring at you.
That morning, at first light, we woke up,
shifted the blinds, opened the windows,
aired the filaments crowding the corridors
of our upper limbs for two years.
We both knew the conclusion:
the body cannot tell a guest from a host,
nor an arrival from a passing through.
I wanted to say stay lover,
for every time you ran, wing clipped,
from the rest of the world
into my arms, into my mouth,
but words are stray dogs barking at the moon,
never eating it. I lay, soft torture,
a curled mass of bruises,
your name gleaming on the wall of my eyes.
Over the river, a swallow flies past
into the ears of the city,
feathering a familiar ache in my throat.
The Very End
On the gram,
I saw the video clip,
you had paid attention to detail:
his nose is straight like mine,
his tooth broken in the middle,
his complexion; dark tan.
The wedding looked exactly like we planned;
an open field, a small audience,
magenta tulips filtering the Pretoria sunlight,
your bridesmaids dressed in oxblood gowns;
when they moved, they looked like dancing flowers.
He & his groomsmen stood, prim like scouts,
waiting for your arrival.
You appeared, veiled, as if from a dream,
stones shimmering on your gown,
sea light behind.
You kept looking back, as if for someone,
as if for something.
The lens shifts to his face,
lit at the sight of such a brilliant work,
like mine once did, five years ago,
when I first held your hands,
too awkward, too nervous to look into your eyes.
Five years more, you do not look half as happy
as that night we laid on my studio bed,
grateful and goose fleshed,
your dream touching my dream,
our atmosphere rich and breathable.
This time, you are a lamb,
your father nudging you forward,
like Abraham tethering Isaac,
forward onto forever.
In another kingdom,
the video may end differently:
I, a seed singing in your earth
growing brightly inside you.
Chiedozie Kelechi Danjuma is a Nigerian writer, essayist and lawyer. His essays and poems have appeared on The Guardian, African Writer, Boom Mag, Nanty greens, Kalahari Review, Praxis Magazine and elsewhere.
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