Ode to the lust for life

Anthony Okpunor

By Anthony Okpunor

I think memories to keep the body.
I write about the day as what
endures the night. something
about dreaming is a lie—
the blue line above your head is
a puzzle of not remembering.
still, sometimes, the things I want
out of this life are small; like a boat,
made from paper, I want a
skin that is the photograph of rain.
all my life my mouth of land & sea is a miracle.
the vehicle bringing us sand is thrown into the nile,
say our body ferries what will not survive.
what time cannot break, rust will.
now, when I think of bodies, the sun taps me awake.
we are the ones who were born left-handed. & home is
the direction of where dreams fail.
the piper is telling the story of a city.
he is singing. he is saying bodies
approaching love are cresting
the nook of god.
we do not live by sight, callous wreck rocked
beautiful by blindness.
how come we did not know this, that calling a sea meant
pulling our own body into sand?
that to bleed is to taste your face & tell its colour?
this does not mean I change my green leaves out of
absence. I do not envy the sky because it is lonely.
I know when to teach my body disappearing acts.
what I want, the sky aglow with birds.
the piper says life is an act of the butterflies. the
blue & black bird is caught tearing off her wings.
we shake our heads in grace, say silence is
the morphing thing bringing descent.
the piper is saying your body is the smallest
prick in the ocean, he is saying something
about the air.
do not weep for me, dear wind.
by loving me you’re choosing the song on
your tongue. teach yourself to call us light.

Anthony Okpunor is a Nigerian poet and artist. He was shortlisted for the 2019 Nigerian Student Poetry Prize. He was also shortlisted for the SEVHAGE/Angya Poetry Prize 2019. He emerged as winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (poetry category). He was a finalist for the 2020 Palette Spotlight Poetry Award. He was also longlisted for Palette Poetry’s 2020 Emerging Poet Prize. His works have appeared/forthcoming on online platforms including African Writer, Praxis Magazine, the McNeese Review, Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, Roadrunner Review, and elsewhere. He can be reached on Twitter @TonyOkpunor.