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Of Souls and Shadows

I’m sitting here

In the middle of this debris

Of blood and jagged muscles

Pulsing the beat of the drunk man’s trudge

The demons race

Debating pain and hurt

Whispering dreams and hopes

Madness tethers on this unspeaking frenzy

 

Your eyes tell that story

Of empty bottles and drowned soul

Mine speak primitive tongues

Of broken groans and rising throes

Don’t say tomorrow

That pregnant dream reminiscent of nightmares

No. Don’t shed light

It casts shadows too

 

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Dear Widow…

Her voice was that quiet confidence that spoke volumes. It echoed the graceful direction of sound by grandma; directing you, telling a story, or lovingly scolding you. I smiled in my head, the kind that only appears as a slight lift of eyelashes in an otherwise unperturbed face. I was being interviewed for a job, she my potential employer. I wasn’t sure she would appreciate being told I was thinking of her in poetic terms. Women can be unpredictable like that. Years of trying to break through the glass ceiling have made some of them sensitive to the slightest nuance. And while I wasn’t sure I wanted the job, I knew I wanted to spend some time in her company. She exuded that unmistakable cool aura of strength and confidence. Call me what you please, but I think those are the most attractive things a person can possess. For some reason, she chose to like me. Perhaps for same reason or another, she chose to tell me a little about herself. I was the interviewee; but I daresay I learnt more about her than she did about me. We spoke, ignorant of time’s passage, unwilling to track it.

“I am a widow”

I felt my jaw drop. Unconsciously my right hand rose to perch my glasses closer to my eyes; it seemed I was seeing things wrong. Some minutes and discreet up-and-down gazes after, I noticed my tongue unwilling to move, felt my eyes grow bigger. My brain was interpreting what my eyes were seeing through the ‘widow’ filter, and getting “error404 Page Not Found” response.  She was exquisite: a dress that curved her body while leaving room for your imagination, a dark jacket with a bright red emblem just above the curve of her full bust, and blood red stilettos. For the love of God! Stilettos!!! I watched her gait when she walked to bridge the gap between us and could only think of a cat. Her last of three sons had just finished from college, and she looked just about 20 years older than me (and I look like I’m 16 years old). She was at the top of her career, and managing two homes; continents apart.

***

Today, on International Widows Day, I empathize with every woman who has ever had to bury her husband. Every woman who felt her world shift because the centre of her universe stopped breathing. Every woman who felt pain so deep she thought her heart would physically shatter. Every woman who hoped her heart would literally shatter so its pieces might fill the emptiness she felt inside. For every woman who lost her sense of identity and/or belonging in the world because her husband left it.

I also iterate the words of that amazing woman who gave me a glimpse into the world of widowhood:

It’s okay to be broken. But don’t stay broken too long. You don’t know why who might pick your pieces if you stay afloor too long.

When the world hits you down, when your world is a chaotic jumble of ill-meaning others, when pain is all your heart can feel and your spirit is a wilted flower, when you can’t breathe because memories of a happy lifetime ago suffocate you, when you’re talking but there’s no one to listen and all that’s left are sounds in your head, when you wake from dreams and the pillow is soaked with tears… remember those words. Accept your broken self and heart, then build it all back together. Piece by bleeding-tear piece.

P.S:

I’ll be tweeting about widowhood @DupeKuku between 4 and 5 p.m today; Nigerian time. Dear Reader, kindly direct your network that way; let’s make today memorable for every widow on cyber space.

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Love you. But…

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

You don’t hear them

The words

You don’t see them

The tears clogging my throat

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

I repeat the words

I need you to hear

The hurt is deep

A knife twisting in my heart

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

My eyes lock on yours

Pleading you see the tears

“I will hurt you”. Words. Yours

“You already have”. Words. Mine

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

These words

Screams in my head

Not granted passage

Past my unmoving lips

I. Love. You

Really. Love. You. But

I’m. Done

I. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore

You never hear them

The words

You never see them

The tears clogging my throat

 

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The Soldier

He watches the night

Shapes between dusty louvres

Lights shadows cast. Sounds

Of words, cries, and groans

Oblivious to our sexed air

 

Hands in pocket, pants hanging low

A quiet raspyness, his voice speaks

Of name tags in streets of strange lands

By the hundreds

Of bodies with heads unknown

 

Taut cords of muscle clothe veined limbs

Ridged skin grow a farm across his back

Memoirs of armed jungles and deafening screams

His scars, holograms

Of deaths not died

 

He never sleeps, never snores

His eyes are empty dark discs

In red pools. They tell

Of gore, blood, and death

Nightmares behind shut lids

 

He would return from every battle

Exchange his money

For my body

A loaded trade of demons

Seeking dreams

 

We are broken beings

Sailing on passion’s wings

Ghosts  expelled with pointed thrusts

Hot tears piercing freezing hearts

Lone souls condemned to more

 

N.B: For us all, the wars we wage, the ghosts that haunt, and the escapes we choose. Most especially for soldiers fighting and dying so civilians can live and sleep safe. May your Spirits find peace.

…To each man, his demon