by Chisom Okafor
In memory of Akin, beaten to death on 17th of February, 2017 for being homosexual
At the end of my suffering
there was a door.
─ Louise Glück.
He starts with a riddle, as with all mirrors and cars:
‘objects in a mirror appear closer than actually their distance.
Tell me. What objects? What mirror?’
I have no answer to this riddle.
My lover’s voice is a rustle of leaves blowing in a cold wind.
‘You lose,’ he says. ‘Here is your prize. Here is your answer.’
And he strips to the waist, to the marked cornfield on his back
where his father had proved us wrong.
He undresses further downwards, past the whip marks and stops
at the borderline, within which a room nestles,
holds a woman, a bell, a crucifix. Specialist in exorcisms.
She casts out spirits; they depart and always return.
In another room, six boys are bent over
a text, like a cavalcade of ants in the season of plenty.
Another boy’s hand, five pronged,
turns a leaf and starts to read,
‘The spirit of God has anointed us,’ he is saying,
‘And has sent us to fetch fishers of men;
to cast out the demons in his name.’
And this book becomes a boy’s bloodied head,
tries to resurrect from this congregation,
and a tornado rises and falls in his mouth.
The words seeping through like rainwater
from sealed lips, strung together into an echo,
drowned out by the mob in his head
like shoes, too big for a child’s feet.
My lover stops at this point.
I want to offer imaginary testimonies in whispers,
I want to say to his father:
our bodies are doors howling in the wind.
I want to say: our bodies are mirrors hidden
in the body of the night,
are seeds buried in the dark earth in a strange land
but growing back.
Open this door. Come into this dark,
come see for yourself.