Beautiful Boy with Garlands around His Waist

Ugochukwu Damian Okpara
| poetry


here / i am not his image / & i envy it / i shut my eyes against what is left / the crackling softness of life / like communion / desire is a marathon / a baton waiting for your grip / here / i am not running / neither is he / i sit with a man for the first time / & we talk about war / the government / the shitty country / old times / & every evening / i look out for that man / i imagine a son and a father bonding over dinner / but what is left of life / if not language / memories as pretty as garlands around the head / i remember his face in a photograph / his arms open / with me blooming like a flower inside / it is the only time i remember it open / in another race / i am handing a baton to god / & his own hands are closed / beautiful boy / with garlands around his waist / sitting by the fire / back home / only wants to be seen / like the fireflies around him / i reach for this softness / & begin to break it like communion / i am making new mouths / all over my body / & i still fail at one thing / to be held close like a wound onto a light bulb / & called kin


Ugochukwu Damian Okpara, Nigerian writer and poet, is an alumnus of Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop. His works appear in POETRY, Poetry Wales, The Masters Review, The Republic, and elsewhere. He is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi.

In the Winter, You Made Me Tea through the Coffeemaker
Once We Are Severed