• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 10
Image by

Lost between two languages

I've lost my luggage in this train
of thought. By this, I mean this vehicle
has no words. By vehicle, I mean language is also movement towards
safety. & ask my father, he will tell you,
he never taught me to ride
in the first class carriage of his people's
language & on each seat, in this poem,
is a boy who doesn't want to leave
his borders of love. But if birds
are migrants from the frantic heat,
why will we not run when the roof
is burning? & it was burning yesterday
when my mother called me, Onye,
which means _____.
Note: we have blank spaces of meaning
in this song. Therefore do not hold on
to me as if I am an anchor to this life.
What if I fall under the carriage wheel
like a piece of bread?
Will crows come with grass
on their beaks to weave my mouth
into a nest? I mean I've mowed
the lawn with my knees,
searching for where I buried
all the words for 'end this'
in my mother tongue.


Lost between two languages

I kept finding myself travelling
out of my body in a train
filled with ghosts of stories
dressed in duct tape lips.
I keep telling the ticket collector
I left my body at home
on the leaflet of a faraway town
where cracked roads always took us
by hand to our mother's bosom.
He does not understand me.
We speak different tongues
but this is not babel.
This is my mouth spelling backwards
the word for 'live' in kwale
& there's no difference in the way
we shape our mouths when we breathe
the foul odour of history.
It is still a flute with manholes
hiding the detritus of the war
no one wants to forgive.
All I'm trying to say is
I'm standing on the borders
of two countries, looking for
the knapsack of my voice,
so I can tell this tribesman
I'm his brother & the gun
he has in my mouth is a song
every one of us knows how to play.