Soonest Nathaniel

In water

“Some say the world will end in fire,
some say in ice,” – Robert Frost

The world will not end
in fire
or ice;
the world will end
in water.

I know because my father walked into the ocean
in search of his young lover surfing upon the tides.
He strayed too far into the offing,
unaware there is no returning
from the vanishing point.
So, days after the elders fished his body from the deep,
they buried his corpse in the forbidden forest
& hung his head on a pole used to mark boundaries.

I know because my brother – a child of revolution
ran away from home in an upturned canoe
down the meandering stream.
He was running from this place
where the earth has become flat,
he was trying to escape from a home
where the war which ended on the field
still rages in the hearts of babies.
But the soldiers of misfortune got him first,
the marauders murdered his dream –
of ending the shaman’s monopoly;
they buried him in a watery grave without a coffin.

I know because Olanna’s calabash was broken
at the bank of the vertical river;
Katrina’s children still roam
the lake within her eyes,
& children of virgins
are learning to kindle fire in the belly of a sea.

My mother was a flourishing creek,
but she died of thirst.
I watched her each day
gasping helplessly
for breath
as more oil spilled
into the delta of her lungs.
So on the eve of her funeral
when the moon became a door,
I walked into history’s class,
raised my middle finger
& posed a question about justice
& the innocence-of-carbon.

Yes, the world will end in water.
I know cuz my lover
had an affair with Ogbuide
& now the children who name trees
must become taproots.
I know cuz I have lived all my life in liquid nights
of primordial curses & ancestral shame;
& now, I am done like broth
from which the prophet’s head will be served.
Let those who could not make it into the ark
nourish their souls & develop gills to breathe liquid.