July 25, 2017by Dami Ajayi

Tuesday Poem by Precious Arinze

When Hunger Becomes Prayer
“Hadduusan qudhaadh jireen, miyaa la qiri lahaa malab –
Who has never tasted bitter, knows not what is sweet” – Somali proverb

the year we cracked out of our skins
blood came oozing out of holes
the body had not formed yet
as if a trauma patient in shock
waiting for the pain to register
needing a ready answer
for when the doctors ask
can you feel what I’m doing to you?
so they can call in emergency aid
diagnose the drought in your belly
declare a famine
and that is how you name a country
that is how you pretend to save it?
this is how we say
if the fighting does not kill us
the escaping will
and if not the escaping
the hunger
and where the hunger colonizes our bodies
wrestles it to the ground
there we will plant new seeds
there we will be rain
panting with our own questions for the soil
o heaven, let our suffering be biblical
let the firstborns die if they must
let the darkness run into its ghosts
o earth, hunger and basmati
taste nothing alike
o earth, there are no lullabies
in a mother’s breasts robbed empty of milk
o earth, declare forgiveness in our mouths
in the bellies of the children
and if there be no water
we will swallow the sea

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Precious Arinze tweets @TheAddlepate