i say manual & rebellion rocks like a storm in my mother’s mouth // she traces history back to the foetus kicking in her belly // even mother knows not the origin how a body // can be both fear & resistance

i toss my prayers like a bouquet into the night // i’m afraid i might die as the wind // feeble & without a memory to hold unto

but scars are memories our traumas leave behind // & my traumas are alive // pulsing // & bleeding // which is to say // there are no scars on my body // meaning // i flip & flip & flip ‘til i arrive at my palmar fasciae // where dead boys with songs buried underneath their tongues // live

truth   this is an ode to my fears // they can quake a country // & still have more to go round // generosity got nothing on them

fear gargles in me like coffee in a coffee maker // still there’s no pocket to fold the fear away


the distal part of my wrists // hold secrets that are too heavy for my mind // & i learn from this // to unravel answers from them // like the way i see arthritis eat & regurgitates a body into a grave // or old age scaling around them // breaking free from within // or the fear trudging through me

i toss my hopes like bouquets into mother // dear momma // see me before this elegy fills me up

Ugochukwu Damian Okpara, Nigerian writer & Poet, is the 1st Runner Up in the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2019. He was one of the 21 mentees in the second cohort of the SLM Mentorship Programme and an alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop. His works have appeared/forthcoming in African writer, The Rising Phoenix Press, Barren Magazine, The Penn Review, and elsewhere. He is a guest Interviewer for Poetry at Africa in Dialogue.