The Pages in August

Nebeolisa Okwudili
| poetry


The pages in August were pulpy, some
as thick as my tongue, some folding over
like tendrils, some spinning out of the orbits
of their spines, some oozing a faint smell
of yeast, some of milk, some of brine,
some looking like tails that had refused
to dry up in the manner of leaves.

It was one August my father had lost
all the letters his mother had exchanged
in the Civil War. I saw butterflies
come to our window like paper come alive
by the act of an ignorant longing.
August came with the vengeance that tasted
sour, like the aftertaste of ash, of war

stirring the dead air after being consumed.
I waited for the pages to regain
their souls but August kept its sting, made me
recollect Fela taking off his pants
to show the puckered scar on his bottom
like the streak of ink on the sheets
of letters, my father trying to save them.

Born in 1993, Nebeolisa Okwudili is a Nigerian writer who has his works forthcoming or featured in Cincinnati Review, Commonwealth Writers, Ambit Magazine, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He won the joint 2nd place in the Okot P Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation and was a finalist for the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets.

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