To want to die

by Chisom Okafor

is to let your feet stiffen into a pillar of salt,
to let them be torn apart, in
a room full of dehydrated men, pilgrims
advancing by faith, each seeking your temple key
each seeking kind admittance
each supplicant crooning passwords. Calling out.
Come, salt of the earth.
Open, sesame.

To want to run away from your own skin
is to let your body become a community of stories
your eyes, an over-flooded island
your mouth, the gates of a graveyard
your nose, a flute, piping soulful tones, dirge after dirge.
Your tongue, a beggar-girl’s bowl, forbidden
to reveal its face, overclouded by acne.
Your skin- a pleasant ripeness-
a burnt offering for men.
You want to cross those aching legs
you long for a brassier, but your nipples burn with sucking.

At a high school in the far North, a debate instructor points a chalk to
inscriptions on a blackboard and says,
you’ve got vagina, convince men,
get the things you want with the platinum tucked
within the folds of your other lips,
with the pearl inserted at the meetings of your thighs.

Which means to die is to want to soften your heart into
splattering under intense illumination.
Which means to die is to be birthed
with a stone stuck in your pudenda,
which means to want to down an overdose of pills is to
metamorphose into a dune
(or a bride awaiting child-marriage)
and lose yourself
to the sand storm, let it dictate your fortunes
let a windstorm whisper to your ear:
C’est fini! C’est fini!

Chisom Okafor studied Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in various literary outlets. Read Chisom’s previous poem on Afreecan Read, My Sister’s Prayer