your day begins  

coffee     croissant     a kiss at the door 
hunch over the keyboard     lost in the landscape of your head
but there is more

a family flees Mogadishu in a truck     in Nador     a man skirts the muezzin’s call        
a woman soothes the heart of her man in Juba     a boy tells his dad about     motley lights beyond Awka        
a girl quits the plains of Asmara     a horseman     ferries his woman through the dunes of Dirkou
each blinded by     the shimmering across the sea     the shimmer of Spain
from the rooftop a son     maps the stars     longing for what’s across the sea       
he’s dreamt of plenty    he’s dreamt of     what’s on the other side where     the plums look redder 
than the sun     within reach any hand     could reach out & pluck     the giant tender sun its redness     
in the face of the sea     across the sea he’s been told     there is more     there’s more plums
for one mouth & plums rot     plums rot in plenty     & he’s dreamt his mouth brim    
with juices of a different plum   
in the doorway a daughter     measures     the hours in her mother’s breaths     how much longer      
she prods the wind     dreaming of peers     charmed to the other side where     the apples look redder 
than the sun     within reach any hand     could reach out & pluck     the giant tender sun its redness  
in the face of the sea     across the sea she’s been told     there is more     there’s more apples
for one mouth & apples rot     apples rot in plenty     & she’s dreamt her mouth brim     
with juices of a different apple   
one brother pawns his family’s amber     the shadows bear     the slink of his steps across the medina        
the twenty-four years he’s known a blur     one sister slips out the hedges     the naira warm 
between her breasts     like her twin sister she thinks     it’s best her father     is best left by himself
in Garabulli     bodies bloat on the beach     some drift into Tarifa where 
pink carnations     await odd remains     the surf of Trafalgar     has washed away     the shapes 
of love in the sands     washes afresh     what's left of a three-year-old     whose parents 
no one can retrieve     but an old lady drops     lilies at its blistered feet     in Bodrum a girl looks asleep 
in the sand      face sunk an inch     half of it gnawed by fish     only her parents     know the span of agony

under the low sun of Karpas     the gleam and shale of dusk     a boat bobs empty     next to a body 
by a buoy     another body has seaweed in its mouth     one has froth between its eyelids      
a photographer steadies his hands     framing in a lens the mess     crabs & shrimps     have made of flesh 
the image     may not rouse boys & girls     stamping down     the city hall     a beachcomber 
dawdles before him & says     a shell holds a memory of water     but the sea is sanctuary for some

an uncle in Zarzis     who’s known the heart of the sea     the dark belly laugh of water     
lays out headstones     behind a grove of olives     a tourist car trundles by     a boy says 
mira papa hay un cementerio     his dad stuns him with an eye     from the front seat 
an aunt unmoved     by the loops of gulls above     speaks of children of a time lost       
the echoes of distant waves
half-risen from fatigue     a coastguard lists at the liquid edge     his mind 
a funnel of last week’s exhibit     of coffins bare of bodies     close by a nun chokes her dream       
of mermaids & their stash of bones     stumbles shoeless through driftwood     touching a rosary to her lips

on a cliff in Lesbos     a priest stands & chants     
Lampedusa is a path of bones     (Sweet Mother of God)
Lampedusa is a path of bones     (Sweet Mother of God)
& the Middle Sea builds     the Middle Sea builds 
its own body of bones
its own city of bones. 

About the Author:

Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike holds a PhD from the University of Alberta, Canada. An alumnus of the International Writing Program (USA), Umezurike has published his critical writing in Journal of African Cultural Studies, Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, Postcolonial Text, Cultural Studies, and Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. Umezurike is a co-editor of Wreaths for Wayfarers, an anthology of poems. His books Wish Maker (a children’s novel) and Double Wahala, Double Trouble (a short story collection) are forthcoming from Masobe Books, Nigeria and Griots Lounge Publishing, Canada, respectively, in fall 2021.

Feature Image by fikret kabay from Pixabay