by Rachel Magaji
in my village, a six-year-old girl became a canvas & her once clear skin was a shrine carved with obscene figurines. sharp machete-like pencils with clear lines cut through her skin like tattoos & she bled crimson flowers.
the moon & the stars hid their beam & betrayed us. the only glows were yellow embers & black smoke that flew from the structures we called home once. we raced breathlessly into the starless night, embracing the darkness we dreaded.
i think my neighbor’s alarm broke again. i didn’t hear their feet dragging languidly. their mother’s sonorous voice & their gruesome banter at the well didn’t permeate my dream.
‘god must be good,’ i smiled to myself. till i saw their heads and their bodies standing apart.
how do you hold the ocean in your fist?
i was told at seven that the blood of an innocent boy once cried & his murderer got an achilles foot.
i do not believe ghosts exist anymore, grandpa lied. dead bodies only become dirt & whisk away with the wind.
i fear my eyes are
becoming a reservoir
of cascading water (tears)
& it’s getting harder
to keep it in.
‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’,
the priest reads & hurls a stone to my chest with his tongue (words) & kindles the fire in my nose (burns) & i convulse on the ground beside my brother’s grave.
white: the color of the pristine coat on the pretty woman standing beside my bed.
‘what do you remember from last night?’ she asks.
/my lips swear an oath of secrecy/ with my tongue & hides/ the truth in the locket/ dangling in my throat. /she shakes her head in disbelief/ her face white like her coat. /
/no! like the color of fear/.
how do you master the knife?
you don’t get caught (cut)!
a tear escapes my left eye as my mother pushes her broken body (matted in bandage) towards me, eyes sore & swollen.
she smiles weakly ‘one of them was arrested. he’ll be taken to the rehabilitation center’ she says to me.
Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RACHEL RABO MAGAJI is a creative writer, digital marketer, and environmentalist from Kaduna State. She’s a graduate of Environmental Management from Kaduna State University, Nigeria. Her literary work has been featured in Hedgerow #130, Haikuniverse, Femku issue 22, SprinNG Literary Movement, Akitsu Quarterly 2020 Summer, The bamboo hut, and Abbyamam’s blog. Connect with her on Instagram (@dr_raeee), Twitter (@rachierabson), and Facebook (Magaji Rachel).