mgbabor emmanuel


after the Owo massacre

I confess to Almighty God, & to you my brothers & —

then the outburst of phoenixes from a child's throat. Then

the shredding of fluorescent bodies like paper canoes.

A bullethole dissolves an amen. How we worship with finger

-length anchors churching in the caves of our chests, till

the hymns cleave open a garden of mushrooms in our mouths.

I memorise the psalms of a grief-stricken God, but the syllables

come out as bubbles. Tell it this way: my father's house

becomes an abattoir of half-sung antiphons & the shattered hands

of polished crucifixes. Again, the priest says peace I give you,

my peace I leave you, but the war begins to glitter in my palm.

What miracle fled the utterance of light? I genuflect,

as if my knees, graceless, is enough to unwreck the ruin.

Another messenger bird falls mid-flight. Another bird begins

to ripen. But God was too busy scribbling love poems at

the sacristy. The canvas of a man's brain spills on my suit,

on the pews, like chewed stars, memories pouring out like

rivulets of pure wine. His eyes, twin whirlpools vanishing.

& then the shape-shifting, how easily we disappear like

purple clouds, like the flickering bulbs of crushed fireflies.

Mgbabor Emmanuel is a Nigerian poet and a member of the Frontiers Collective. He tweets @literati22.