She once told me:
I’ve solved many clues but,
not my cardiac predicaments.
Each time I face a test
the result comes out negative.
Perhaps, that’s who I am,
an incompetent puzzler.
My father once studied my life,
his neck moved his head,
left & right & left & right
twice, three times again.
My heart, a glass of ice,
melting into cold water.
I can tell the future,
it looks bright in my eyes
but, in my dreams,
it’s always night,
always a hospital,
a nurse, alarming, alerting the doctors,
I, on an emergency bed,
being wheeled to a ward,
always my mother
saying it’s all right, my sisters, praying,
always my father telling me,
I can make it.
& whenever I wake up,
the crossword is soaked in my sweat
& it feels like that last word
I can make it.
Hajia/ fine-faced / like black peppercorns/ draped in /silver white hijab/ but/ that doesn’t make her/ smell like God/ or resemble white/ or taste like religion/ am I right? /the clothing/ falls off her limbs/ taking off/ the woman-portrait/ hung on her chest/since twelve/ but/ what a way/ to hide nature/from revealing/ its true self/ am I right? / living inside/ a hijab/ is one way/ to say Islam/ singing/ Allah akbah/ is another way/ of course/& I see/ so much eagerness/ in a girl/ that hides/ her precious pearls/ & her pride/ & her glinting eyes/ & yet is not fussed/ I envy/ the pink box/ that swallows/ these gold/ or the ears/ & necks/ that wear them/ in secret/ indeed/ to serve a God/ you must learn/ to die/ to sweet colours
What I want to whisper into God’s ears
My faith has become an illusion,
Call me a Roman or a Jew,
Brewing liquor over my head as oil.
I am a mutant,
The opposite of holiness.
Mother taught me to read beads
Like those nuns in the cloister.
My knees, pressing hard against my words,
As they blend between my jaws,
Sweet like potato chips.
After tripping many times,
I woke up in the depth
Of a place where part of me yearns for,
But, I don’t.
In my search of a way out,
I crossed every intersection on
My bead & it led me to a cross
& sanctified me with guilt. I continue:
…..Holy Mary, mother of God pray for me,
Sinner, now & the hour of my death…..
I want to wash my heart white, whiter,
Whiter than white, a holy mirror,
That reflects God.
I want to whisper into his ears & say,
Father I’m sorry, please punish me
By my fractions & make me whole.
Chinedu Gospel is a Nigerian poet who uses the art to soothe his uneasiness with thoughts and emotions.