By Ibe Obasiota Ben
The love I’ve known is the love of / two people staring/ not at each other but in the same direction. — Frank Bidart
I am a deserter. Somewhere, a man speaks to the stars, asks them to lead him to the place where love is birthed, the stars lead him to the homestead. The shorebird tilts its beak to the direction of the wind as if to say, see, love is upon us. Nightly, a greying woman in a forest of pines rips her dress into little blue ribbons, ties each to a tree, calls it a map that leads her lover back to her. Hold these as beacon and scripture: we are in the oasis of each other’s body, P, that is to say nothing holds a riffle against us here, to say we have been made hallowed to thread this garden unafraid of ghosts, to say we emerge from the oceans of each other’s voice leaving footprints of water and desire. It’s night but I cannot look into the full moon of my lover’s eyes and tell him that I love him, that there are parts of me named after our metaphors. Is love sometimes not a splinter? Is love not something of a labyrinth unsolved? Why can’t I be with my lover? I want to believe that love is stiller than grief, that both do not stagger towards the same core. At equilibrium, poems about love are the hardest to defend. A song from the old music box of memories breaks into a sprint in a distance. Orange hues slip through the windows of our hearts . The world: at rest and in motion. My lover names me in a language that only him and I understand. Herein, language connects and disconnects signals of two bodies thereof. All my lover and I do with our words is shift the water of semantics. One of us says: I’m terrible at loving. The other says: I love you. One says: I want us to be forever people. The other says: this love is political and I’m rooting for myself with it. One: give me an autograph. Where on your body do you want it? The other says. One says: sex is a mental activity. The other: if two people say dancing is sex, then it is. One says: I love you. We should take a break. The other says: I love you too. Let’s take a break. I have been throwing pebbles at the world, but the universe does what it always does — rains a silence to wet the heart and lets you cry in the rain. You too are a deserter, Folashade’s boy. How long has it been? Come home now, will you?
Ibe Obasiota Ben is a Nigerian. She has won the Bloomsday Poetry Prize 2020, the African Writers’ Trust Prize 2018 as well as the Briggitte Poirson Poetry Prize (Friendship edition). Her works have appeared on Brittle Paper, Kreative Diadem, Nigerian Students’ Poetry Prize anthology 2019 and elsewhere. She writes from Calabar, Nigeria. Follow her on twitter: @obasiotaibe and on instagram: obasiota ibe.