Vials of Immortality There is a way with fire: It does not consume It keeps It preserves Into a state that cannot be marred Ash like dust, Is the end of certain things, unforced Into the waiting hands of mother earth Calling back her own, Home Into a state that cannot be marred It preserves It keeps It does not consume Like fire, The earth is the end of certain things, Once loved like home too. Flowers Kobi lo KO ko bi lo! This is how I remember it. This is how I remember our laughter Our wonder Our undivided faith in this cosmic madhouse. Trees were tall masquerades Held down with glue So they do not bite us. A dam was a sea, Mama Caro swallowed a baby Only to birth it again as her own. This is how I remember it. Multiplication and curiosity Reconstructed into rubber wheels Carved from flops of reality we refused. We were bold enough to count the stars, Listen for the neighbor weary of his wives Like flowers, We did not know we were petals Until only the last one remained. Little Girls We grew up learning how to kiss, slow, Not the fast ravenous kind. We let our tongues taste the waters, Felt the lips like they were stones floating Until we were gently leaping from stone to stone to the other side. I told Amirah to be careful To hold her breasts, secure, in their cups when the confluence is being roiled But not everyone knows how to kiss, slow So next thing we see, She has swallowed the river for a sip Her mother was enraged, Dragged her across shame to the bank but there was nothing there. She had swallowed it all; Bone, History and Songs. A Carnival of Tension Sango has risen from the ground, The man who bears him sniffles at the thing around his neck As body and soul burn in a dilemma of wonder He screams, "Free me, Sango! This is my body! Free me!" The crowd chortles loudly, To the horrors of years his young limbs could not contain. Anjenu Early one morning, The rooster exploded with its song on its beak. So, our father went out, Returned with pebbles and asked us to kiss them for safety. It was a war. The silence louder than my fear deafened me. I heard nothing But I saw our neighbor's child fall Like he was happy to end it. The bullets landed Right, left, everywhere Until it chose our roof and Baba's pebbles scattered All over the floor like the rice he refused us But gave his gods. In the evening, A funeral of unequal sonnets was held Somewhere - Life halted at a zebra crossing While we marveled at our reality: Living children carrying death on their head Like waterfalls retreating.
About the author:
Star Okpeh is a Nigerian Poet and Textile Artist. She is the author of The Dance of Dawn and a columnist with Konya Shamsrumi Press. She judges poetry for Guesthouse magazine. Her works have appeared in over twenty five anthologies, journals and international magazines. Star blogs at www.starzahra.com.