Reading time: Approximately 3 minutes
When I first read this poem many months ago, I was moved by the complicated emotions of frailty and strength, the contrast of a little girl and what it is to have a national identity. The images in the poem, while specific and visceral, also seem to span decades and country borders, residing instead in a universal space. .chisaraokwu.'s words, for me, find this vulnerable place of survival, offering a humanity wherever we standing.
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Mare Heron Hake
on the expressway’s edge
slender-armed girl in gray
squats to relieve her self
& curls up
in an abandoned hollow
smoke rises above above
an abandoned shed: an altar
zinc & cement.
the bush burned,
Abraham—seduced by blood
& altar—ignored the coming
What does it mean to be
you ask the question in english & expect
Autonomy when you cannot name
squat american girl
picks up the charred remains
of a book her dead father once read to her:
the recycled story of blood & beginnings
where another fire burns.
where a people whose names are written
in a book dare to stop the coming war.
reprinted with the permission of the poet
.chisaraokwu. had this to say about her work:
This poem is part of a series on the Biafra War born out of regular visits "home" to Nigeria. Each visit home comes with a requisite drive up the expressway between Port Harcourt and Umuahia. Each visit, I look for clues—sounds, images, anything—that might strengthen the internal bridge between my country/ethnicity of origin and the country of my nationality. Where is home? Does home claim you? What is home telling you? This is where the poem starts and is going.
.chisaraokwu. (she/her) carries Moleskine notebooks in her pocket, considers the stage her home away from home, and believes in universal access to high quality healthcare for everyone. Twitter: @chisaraasomugha
Photo credit: KJC Photography