Medical-student-by-day and poet-and-writer-by-night Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan presents three poems that rise from the embodied soul and meditate on existence in verses that ride on simplicity yet convey the greater cultural complexity of the young Nigerian poet’s musings.
CHOREOGRAPH OF SMEARED PALMS
My body is a nation that throws itself open
the way a dissected tummy vomits out its organs.
I am a scalar tourist in this world
travelling through the highways of my palms.
Nomads conquered my body;
their paths smeared on my palms,
congesting my secluded feet.
I offer my body as a map:
contours curl into my hair.
A town erupts from my chest
as the town crier cries out my name.
I remember the way my mother taught us to become
a chapel when the blood in our bodies drown our hearts
and our tongues thirst for home.
I say a prayer for home and ask God
for the sanctification of these palms
smeared with barren dreams.
Let mercy be shown unto me, Lord,
that I may own my body once again
and trace the way home through
WRITING (RIGHTING) MY BODY INTO A PERFECT SYMMETRY
My father said there is a line
in the back of a man, a path of his
symmetry that must not touch the ground.
So my brother learned a way to lean
on the world without his shoulders
touching the earth and how to scratch the back
of the ghosts without receiving the same
treatment in return.
The ways of gods journey through men
and men are little gods.
He told us to hoard our pains and sing
our wounds into cold birds.
He told us to crush stones with our hands
and name ourselves after heavy rocks that shield
their cracks until they silently metamorphose
into slighter pieces.
Even when our eyes were reddish
with burning waters, we did not know
the way of easing our pains in the face of the world.
Did I tell you how he told us
that the best way to become a man
is by restructuring your body into a night
so that you can hide every feeling behind
the shade of your masculinity?
I know Amiko,
he’s a boy living across our street,
he’s the last child carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders,
they say fending for his mother and elder sisters
is the only thing he inherited from his father.
Perhaps the symmetry of boys made them steel
in this world,
or perhaps the sauce meant for the buff geese
were never meant for their own gender.
I’m on a journey to right (write) my symmetry
into a quadrant of a sheer body;
a body that freely rains water without shame
when its cloud is too heavy for it.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEWBORN
your tongue is a flower
that you cannot hide,
your voice is the songs of birds
defining love in the language of tots
and there was a way I drank your body
that we could not tell if your body
was also water tastier than wine
and that’s how we free ourselves
from the burdens of the world;
it’s by speaking through our eyes
in the language of the newborn;
the lingua-franca of emotions.