AT THE BORDER by CHINUA EZENWA-OHAETO

your mouth wants to forget the breadth of this place, forget
how you rolled into it & swallowed its lynching rains. for
what place turns the things in it into ashes. what place burns into the skin
& says you’re an embodiment & a reflection of things cracked & squashed.
a boy once saw you on the road & mauled his greetings into his back pockets.
two hurts on a boiling spot are never unlike-poles. & will never attract.
this place does not know how to hold the peoples in it. histories stitched in loops.
it fills dreams with flowers grown at the graveside. truckloads of broken stars.
it has no name for yesterday’s reflections and today’s possibilities. no full stop.
at the border your legs want to become a gallery of run. run. run is not a verb.
run is a name for safety. a name for not dying. & a name for holding sun & moon.
at the border your tongue wants to lose the taste of this place,
lose the taste of the metals that spread into mass graves. for
what place folds its night & day into litanies of grieves. what place grows
bodies backwards. grows fire & shells. & words from its radios & televisions
are lists of found & unknown limbs & bones. this place knows devil in the details.
this place knows corridors in red. knows walls graffitied by mangled bodies. and burnt
fleshes, the colour of baked nectarines. at the border you want everything wrong
with this place as a memory doused at the feet of amen.


This poem was previously published in Palette Magazine.

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