Afterlife of Poems
In the cities, chit-chatting women with broken heels right their slipping sleeves with one hand and remove gums from their mouths with the other to paste the obituary of poems merely to do “justice” Posters hanging on for life to traumatized walls bearing the vague impression of poems tortured contortionists dissolving into amorphous ink Their death a ravenous mist Their presence a snare befuddling sleepwalkers …Once, a curled-up primal yell, its entire body a heart, slowly unfurled into many broken poems like vintage mismatched trinkets being poured out of a lost-but-found box by the old woman who hid them when she was a little girl and then forgot that she did Their roiling a restlessness haunting everyone but none as much as itself lingering in the air long enough to trouble it unclad Nakedness shaming onlookers As if their nudes suddenly came up on a projector at a family reunion This nothing refused the garb of something, no matter how much it was worried… …see the women. Women who seem to know things intimately (What things, no one really remembers) … called upon to make impressions of the poems See them make vague drawings that look less like the dead poems the bolder their brush strokes The poems will be missed but not missed Errant poems clinging on to the tips of the posters …to the kaleidoscope of a baby’s life Grazing the chin of a young woman and muttering, you are it… Leaving her poring over the meaning of “it” Fluttering in the place the old man’s womb would have been and wondering whether to set up shop or not, Burdening him, lulling him with the pathos of indecision Hiding out in plain view in the divorce between the eyes and mouth of a middle-aged woman
Funmi Gaji earned her first degree and Master’s in Literature-in-English from the Lagos State University and University of Ibadan, respectively. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Ibadan, where she is researching multicultural literature. Her poetry was described by Jumoke Verissimo as one that “moves between the simple struggles of being, of locating self in the din of selfhood, to emerging into something that seeks to be recognized.” She is the author of The Script of Bruises. Her poems have appeared in ANA Review, Jalada, and elsewhere.