By Ayiyi Joel
After the war
we tend to our wounds/scars
The scars of loss & drowning
Of memory, of the memory of all the noise
Of all the blood/crimson wetting the soil.
After we slept in camps.
All we are left with as inheritance is memories
Burning/pictures of things we gave up/
Of people who left with the war.
I remember after I left home
In the company of boys like me, who hold nothing
Of home, except the wails of a mother
Cuddling her unripe seed, who fell by the puncture of bullets.
Another boy sits on a red patch of soil, pulling at his father’s shirt,
urging him to wake from his sleep.
At the border, I picture everything/everyone
Who never left with us. Those whose faces
We grew up to hold in/to our chest. Of mother/
Of sister/of father/of brother/of comrades/
Months after we left, I see those faces.
In that dream, I dance with them again. I sit
With them under the white round moon, by the fire.
I wake & I cry & I laugh.
& Again, I laugh, remembering I still carry them
In me. I cry, remembering I still carry emptiness
Inside this chest. The burning,
The cries, the loss & the silence. They never leave.