Ijeoma Umebinyuo | Poetry

MISCARRIAGE

The hospital had no incubator.
………Your sister is in the living room surrounded by women
………There are no men in the house, not even her husband
………Her two children who have been waiting for their new sibling
………Dance and sing ringa ringa rosy! a pocket full of roses!

………Another one will come the women say
………He was so light skinned your sister replied
………The women suck their teeth and shake their heads
………God knows the best. God gives, God takes
………Your mother is crying
………She had come to perform omugwo
………To press your sister’s stomach with hot water,
………To cook her water yam with spices
………To make her akamu so her breasts will be full of milk
………To care for a new grandchild and her daughter

………Another one will come
………Another one will come the women say
………Your sister removes her scarf, running upstairs
………You find her kneeling before the empty crib
………She is saying the names of all the children
………Who have refused to live in her home
………Like they were there, like they could hear

………The women stare from the doorway
………They leave her to rock the empty crib back and forth
………They leave her to throw her anguish across the room
………Like half eaten rotten mangoes
………They leave her to curse God

………Your sister is in the room surrounded by women
………There is no man in the house, not even her husband
………Her two children who have been waiting for their new sibling
………Dance and sing ringa ringa rosy! A pocket full of roses!
………And she joins them now, the women do not stop her
………No one but her can see her children.

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IN LOVING MEMORY OF CHINELO

………The birds chirp, the sun follows, this is how the morning arrives
………And my cousin Chinelo knocks on my door, waiting for breakfast
………We dip our bread in hot tea, the soaked bread in our mouth
………She puts it in too quickly, she spits it out
………It burns her tongue. I tilt my head and laugh.

………We go swimming in the lake where no one is allowed to fish
………Surrounded by forests, we scream and it echoes
………The lake is clear like it has been for centuries
………I dip my dry skin into the cool water.

………My grandmother dances when she sees me
………Her feet moving left and right
………She cuts ripe paw-paw so sweet
………I watch Chinelo lick the juice from her fingers
………Grandmother speaks in Igbo, welcoming me home
………I reply in english.

………Grandpapa waits for us to eat dinner
………And we gather around him for stories
………In the stories, we go back to old times
………Before I was born, before he was born.

………The birds chirp, the sun follows, this is how the morning arrives
………And my cousin Chinelo knocks on my door, waiting for breakfast
………We dip our bread in hot tea, the soaked bread in our mouth
………She puts it in too quickly, she spits it out
It burns her tongue. I tilt my head and laugh.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo was born in Lagos, Nigeria but her ancestral home sits between two states, a border town somewhere in Southeastern Nigeria. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Wildness, The Rising Phoenix Review, Doll Hospital Journal, The Renaissance Noire, and The MacGuffin.

2018-12-31T15:00:37-04:00