All the way from Benin City, Edward Elizabeth brings us three poems that reflect pain and perseverance through the depths of an anguish past yet fresh in the mind and latent in the soul. A young poet engaging with essential questions of life and death, destruction and creation, survival and healing, Elizabeth’s verses do not shy away from expressing a vulnerability felt far and wide by more than enough people around the world. These three poems were submitted before the times of global pandemic and perhaps serve to remind us that adversity is inherently linked to human life, while vulnerability is best conveyed as strength in the courage to write such verses.

Premonition I King 18:46

Then the hand of the lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

One of these days I will wake up to find that I am dead,
with my body floating above this room dead—
dead, my body running back and forth through the walls,
trying to escape gravity,
I’ll be running back into my body,
running out,
bouncing off the walls onto my bed,
bouncing up, still running,
picking up blades
to cut through skin that doesn't exist.
The kind of anger
I have been bearing within
is finally out
—running free—
me watching my mother,
my brother finding a reason for drinking,
my sister checking my pulse frantically—
even in death,
I love to be dramatic…

 

Dream Catchers

…Even unto death I love being dramatic,
so in dreams I will live,
my sister will check my pulse again
—finding the desired vital signs—
my brother will stop drinking,
my mother won't be crying anymore.
The kind of anger I bear
can cut through skin
but I am trying to contain it within,
watching myself drop the blades,
trying to bounce back into my skin,
these walls can't contain me,
watch me run back into myself,
with gravity finally getting a hold on me.

Finally, I am alive—
alive, breathing. Breathing…

 

Portrait of Me as a Ghost

…after Kaveh's Akber learning to pray

I have forgotten all the simple prayers that are supposed to be used in days of emergencies
Someone help me roll back my tongue into the sleeves of my mouth
Roll back my hands from turning into the shape of a crucifix.

There are three things I know for sure:

i
Some sorrows are nameless yet heavy

ii
The dead can't come back to life except for Lazarus

iii
Prayers

But
     I keep forgetting what language I should pray in,
        so I mix them all up
        Convincing myself of its tongues
I settle for signs while waiting for the footsteps
of people who will never come back
Days like this I ache to be just as beautiful as Father
Bathed in blue light, body bent towards God, bent in prayer,
Days like this I become a shark,
No—
I become a scorpion,
I become anything that is bent on surviving,
forget about my ability to kill,
I am talking about my endless nights
and days with lack of sleep,
I ache to be anything
just as peaceful
and as beautiful as Father
Hands cupped in prayer
Bathed in strings of blue
to be anything
even
to be a ghost.

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