mythology about my father
Reality is held in Igba Iwa,
the calabash of existence
an unbroken chain of purpose stretching
the way light shimmers through the water
calmness, serenity, sensitivity, insight,
ugwu bu nkwanye nkwanye—respect is reciprocal
maternal grandmother’s lineage was Strong,
Akara ihu bu obi madu.
(The lines on the face reveal a person’s heart.)
greatest gift a father can give his son
oyi agbara, the caul of the holy spirit
cut the first line from the center of the forehead
down to the chin
full consciousness from birth to earth
so much better
myself so different than he was
don’t belong here or in
the land of the spirits
have eaten peppers all my life
nicknamed me Erusi (spirit)
who never received enough love,
or any of the love for that matter
I will leave a trail of love when I go
This piece is composed solely out of phrases selected randomly from Chris Abani’s (2013) “The Face: Cartography of the Void”—a memoir that is all at once poetic, tragic, and redemptive.
This amazing little book is written with much eloquence and great self-knowledge, as Abani tells us about his negotiation of and transformation away from the toxic masculinity of a loving but abusive father—while also finding his own becoming when wedged between two cultures (Abani being both Igbo, Nigerian, and English).
This post is another ad hoc share of a you-must-definitely #ReadIt book borrowed from The Library of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD). I am still here in week 3 of the West African Writers Residency Programme 2022, and loving every minute of it!