Every Night
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Every night I carry the memories of this
place in my palms, caressing each of its
pages, one by one, to feel them,
maybe for the last time.

Here, one is never sure if he will see night
transform into morning, and morning
into another night into another morning,
for many things are wrong in this place.

I remember that particular evening
you met your friend on one side of the road,
laughing, talking about girls and things you never had with him.
And when there were no more words, he left you with a goodbye.
You smiled as he sailed to the other side of the road.
There, he was circled and cut into unrecognizable limbs
by the herdsmen, like a badly done mosaic.
To you, the goodbye wasn’t meant to be the last.

Most times you find a woman rushing
home so that night will not meet her.
Nights are deadly here, very cruel. And
when night meets her, you will find her with cloth stuffed
in her mouth to stop her screaming her pains
or you will find her in the morning
with open thighs and drowned in the lagoon
or you will find her un-whole:
that is to say some boys have unmade her, deprived her
of the strings that held her together
or you will find her in pieces with missing parts.

When those with rainbow colors embedded in their black skins
speak out because they are tired of loneliness and the sorrows of the shadows,
they are punctured with threats, stones, burning tires, jail terms,
or even kidnapped: ask Romeo, ask Chibuihe, ask Arinze, ask Aghogho.

I am at the last page of memories of this place,
it heavies my palms, heart, and head.
I fold it and return to my pillow in hope
that I will defeat the night and live on in this place,
burning incense for it to someday become
a constellation of pacific shades.


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