My father remains, a ventriloquist.
Even now, I love him. It’s impossible.
As if this is what heart muscles are meant for.
Labial and prickly,
A tenderness within which I write words
And delete them.

In these séances, we stand outside always.

Around us, a network of sibling woods
Alive. Interlacing their leaves
Sanscript in suspension.
As if needy to embrace a street
Like co-joined daughters.

Nearby, someone makes a
Headstone of dried palm nuts.

Instead of death, I think milk………after the flesh is crushed
In these séances, even a smoking bush taking up half the sky is prayer
The possibility of rebirth endless
As the flourishing of algae.

Or something florid enough to mean the transitions
Between silence and my father’s tentative humour,
Feeling out the sleek ghosts of our unlit passage,
Nothing grim.
I let a man part my hair in sections,
Run a band twice to hold the growing locs in place.
Even when he explains love to me as the cost of not visiting relatives
And cutting out therapy altogether, I am ashamed of wanting this
More than I want to understand why………I am transfixed by the end
Of my ever shrinking country.

KECHI NOMU is Brunel International African Poetry Prize finalist. Her work has been accepted for publication in The Railto, Interrupture, The Bangalore Review, openDemocracy and elsewhere. Her work examining borders and memory was exhibited by Invisible Borders in collaboration with Apexart, New York, in 2019. Her poetry chapbook “Acts of Crucifixion” was published by Akashic Books and APBF in 2018.