On My Coming Out
Father once probed into a distance,
tossed all night on his creaking stretcher,
now and again, a break of bones, a discoloured whispering at daybreak,
listen boy, there is a beast in every man.
And it stirs when you put fire in his hands.
I know how to roll up mine into tins of salt water,
I longed to tell him,
how to unfurl memories like metaphors, bandages on raw flesh;
start with first words:
there is a beast strapped to every man’s loin,
scathing, like the insides of a glowing splint.
Fire could equate longing,
say, a journey into burning nights to rediscover a certain moonshine,
say, into a forest of roaring beasts to find love.
Today, I start to journey into a country of ghosts.
Mother whispers, you’re sure? You’re convinced?
I greet her with silence.
She thinks I’ll never return home.
I was born in a place for old men,
for boys feasting their way backwards into time.
The priest swiftly makes an incision on your skull
from where he stoops to weave-in a certain birthmark;
in secular seaculorum…
I know boys trapped to birthmarks like seagulls to brown water
I know others turned silenced men, still sutured to the mark of the beast
because here, you know forced silence is how best to live after birth:
accept the wrong love in its untouchableness
learn how to pick out its echo when it calls
the love you seek does not belong in this place,
it’s been broken so often it wears the segmented skin of centipedes.
The wrong love shrivels your hands into thorns on a cactus.
My skin, like a body of saltwater, make for a sea of wonderments ─
lost love, broken hands, burning flesh.
My body is a riverbank, flooded with wonderments.
It recites reminders to the shadows that make love to me.
By Chisom Okafor
Chisom Okafor is a 25 year old, queer Nigerian writer. He’s had works published or forthcoming in Praire Schooner, EXPOUND, The Indian Journal of Literature and Aesthetics, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Praxis and elsewhere. He is currently co-editing an anthology of contemporary poetry: 20.35 Africa, and has a debut chapbook, ‘In The Cathedral Of Our Bodies’, set to be published in 2018.