A Race I Have Yet to Finish – A Poem by Omodero David Oghenekaro. Art by Josie Vie.

A Race I Have Yet to Finish

After Ocean vuong & Anne Marie’s Beautiful

I am alone in this small place of sorrow
& it’s no one’s fault.

It seems, darling, the walls flanking this space
I carved for my loneliness & I, are closing in

on me, on us. In a way, they’re saying:
we can no longer hedge your grief from the world’s line of sight

& my dreams, in reality, are ghost bridges I’ve been
walking on for so long to get back to your lost embrace

Ma, when you opened my eyes to the light
Of this world you said it was vast enough

to hold both sorrow & joy at once, as well as their excesses
you said they both took on the likeness of the sun & rain—

one shone upon the faces of people after the other came
flooding their terrains but, ma, I have seen the sun,

a pale-orange boy, hiding behind a mound of clouds
on a grief-leached sky, after a stampede of rain-hooves

Everyday came with its own distinct music, some of which
we danced to, others we groaned at…
A delivery man with unsolicited delivery boxes.

Ma, you said I could claim whatever I feared would claim me
& my joy in the long run. I am on this track, running towards my joy—

a finish line that keeps appearing farther
than how I first pictured it.

I fear this sorrow, who is running behind me,
& unlike other racers, is doing so with a terrifying urgency

as though after my life. I fear it will eventually outpace me,
& tear down that white banner before I embrace it.

In a dream, I was few meters away from the finish line,
& there it was, right behind me; its heaving— a jagged music

rattling my cold bones, terror dancing through
my veins like a naked wire dropped into my bloodstream,

It was then he reached for the hem of my vest
& dragged me back, like a mother would her straying son,

dragged me back to where I took off—
on that lonely terrible starting block—

my knees re-marrying their old prints on the dust,
my body possessing the full weight of a longing liquefied

into sweat from a race I have yet to finish,
Look, ma, what promise, what dream, what longing,
what purpose, has snapped its spine behind the cage of my eyes?

Omodero David Oghenekaro was born in 2003 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He’s currently an undergraduate student of Biomedical Technology at the University of Port Harcourt. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Lolwe, Brittle Paper, icefloe press, Afreecan read, Rigorous magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Poetry Column NND, Eremite Poetry and elsewhere.He loves reading Poetry and hopes to know enough to teach it. Reach him on Twitter: @DavidOmodero

Banner Art: Mother Ship. A painting with mixed-media elements by Josie Vie (c) 2021. Josie Vie is just a soul passing through. She resides in Quebec, Canada.

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