Tares Oburumu

My grandfather is seated next to his trauma

visible in the war-photo. And I, with the future clouded

in my hand, circle the northern front where he missed

the last train that left the graveyard, silent. Silent,

because two many voices were held, solemnly,

in one conversation. The despair is still post-colonial;

a border town between the British empire

and the east, which looks half great, half yellow,

like the afterglow of a rainbow crushed on a mirror.

Look, he once pointed. His fingers deep in the reflections

swimming in the slices of an old sun, pouring through

the curtains like raindrops. At the backdrop is history,

a toy bird in my hands. Suddenly, the bird grows 

his own wings and flies. I break the sky open and cry

down the sea where he loved my portrait most.

Where the brown water of the Niger doesn’t mix

with the blue of my pastiche. Where he skipped the story

of how he died running after the train, in which I was aboard,

growing up in the belly of my mother— he, half dreaming, afraid,

that I will become a young Nigerian after the civil war.

Tares Oburumu is a poet, essayist and playwright. He’s a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Benin. His works have appeared on Connotation Press, Loch Raven Review, Agbowo, Expound, Praxis, Nantygreens, Sentinel, Dawn Review, Naija Stories, Woven Tales Press, YabaLeft Review, Icefloes International journal, Juke, Agonist, Bluepepper, and elsewhere. He is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee. He has six chapbooks of poetry. He’s the winner of the GAP poetry prize and the Tenth winner of the Sillerman prize for African poets