POEM AS A HOLOCAUST AT THE CATHEDRAL
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.