In the thicket
Mothers hum & prod babies
bitten by tsetse flies. In the thicket
every sleep is slippery
towards silent stupor
& mothers know every quiet eye
closure is not peace
so they hum & prod babies
on the crossroad
between sleep & death.
I’m stretched over my mother’s
she curses & sniffles because
I swallowed a river
in the valley of slimy stones & tadpoles
my spirit drowns inside me.
my brother has made bed of rotten
leafs for his boyish body
his memory is a room of burnt &
his mouth an open door for ghosts
whose names perished in fire
whose blood coloured our play sands
my mother watches him with salty
eyes & unwatch
she watches & does nothing
because his head is not a house
she can tidy.
Our town is a firework of ungodly war &
my father is lost in the navel
of the flames.
To the villages he rasped. A city on fire
is no earth for women.
It is no nursery for children.
Flying Pig in My Brother’s Dream
How many ghosts can one little boy’s eyes hold?
my brother squirms against a wet wall
it’s the exorcism in his dream
a duck in warm water & a horrified sleeping boy dance alike
boys like my father’s first son should not piss outhouse
look at the night lens & get the revelation
a rattling soul supine translates into a creaking bed
a boy thrust into the dark will return with tales
like one of flying pigs in my brother’s mouth
time may set bones & graft wounds
but can it debride a little boy’s memory?
The man in kaftan
A strange man in kaftan in the market
touched Jesus on my mother’s blue blouse
and stopped. Like an epileptic,
She is a goddess of eyes rolling
at tomato water, meat stench & unknown people
as instinct have her
Girding. If strangers know nothing
about themselves, who deposited my brother’s name
in the golden mouth of this man? That childhood name
Scattered her to possible
playgrounds & gardens my
brother might have worn her face to
Sorry I don’t remember you, she said
after searching the alleys of memory
Maman Dampen, haba, he tore up
his eyes an apparition of old fires
of the ablution waters his kettles
drank from my father’s well years before
of the alley by their house that led
to our church
My mother returned home with
the man’s number. on the phone we talk
about years, time, sands, stones, vocation
women, sports, siblings, health.
We do not talk about the kerosene
from my mother’s lantern
the lighter of my father
the fire that munched their house
We do not talk about the fleeing of his
family & the blood of my uncles
that mapped their way
we let silence twinge at our ears.
Haruna Solomon Binkam is a writer from Jos, Nigeria whose works have appeared on and is forthcoming on Afreecan Read and CAROUSEL. He is a Bada Murya Fellow and finalist of the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive fellowship. He finds fireflies fascinating.