By Dipe Jola
We toweled our bodies into the national flag, singing sour songs
from our dusty throats. Our cracked voices gruesomely held on to God’s
dinner gown. They saw our dirty bodies and decided to make us clean—
emptying our loudness on the outskirts of Lagos. When the first gunshots
of cleanliness reached us, many were washed, clean. Others were almost
clean— the whiteness of the cloud bellowing from their necks and thighs
and arms and stomachs. In fact, there was a very dirty boy whom we watched
get cleaned up— his intestines burying our sights into a waterfall. To not
get cleaned, some people fell and got cleaned like a girl before the sky
rained. She wore this blouse that could pass for an angel’s lost child,
that later turned to a pressurizer when her skull forked into an open car bonnet,
washed half clean. We that loved our dirt escaped the mass cleanliness,
— some swarm across miles more than a shark would. Isn’t our instinct commendable?
Some, like me and the boy I fell in love with, escaped by separation. Two bodies can’t
dirt their way from cleanliness. Today, history retreats into a song, a photo, a pamphlet
of sketched memories. We know what it feels like to burn while turning the Christmas
chicken over. The color stretches, thickens, then brownie brown. There’s something
about a country tossing burnt children over and over to check the intensity of the burns.
Today, we pour names over Christ’s memories— from the walks of Golgotha to the
awakening. Remember, we are here to carry the truth like a culture that shouldn’t fail.
Dipe Jola is a poet from Lagos, with works forthcoming / published on Minerallit, FeralPoetry, Downriver Road, SprinNG, GhostheartLit, Turnpike Magazine and elsewhere. Her poem “Outside the shade, a bird flutters” was shortlisted for the Dissonance Magazine Covid-19 Contest. She was the first runner up for the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize 2018. A Pushcart and Best Of The Net Nominee. She tweets @Jola_ng on Twitter.