Illustration by Chinasa-Nnenna
teeming leaves in a cup of someone who loved me. loose and fluttering — preferred it that way brimming with entropy, you drink down the scarlet tide and take the rose warm swell since you saw no ally among us, leaking into burdened water. i hold fast to a blade once loyal, my boasting bedfellow aching with an unconscionable knowing, it burns in my grip, i am not its master. i turn towards the ghost of you and see we beg like twisted mirrors, careful confiture, drowning your hands i hear you in the dead of night (out damn spot!) bursting drupelet, kill me well. i know what comes for me a fate well-met at dawn, this noxious nightshade chants farewell. i close my eyes. you stand before a massacre and tell me it smells of spring. the taste rips right, and i see crumbling clouds where people should be. i wake with blood in my mouth. “you bite your tongue in your sleep” this is what you tell me. i am sour and bubbling, crushed leaves sail through me like dancing rocks in a stream. you left me in the sun too long. dried me out and pressed me down, watched the last of me seep from my open eyes. i have seen what is to come, the bottom of her cup left for me i have seen the ladybug’s hide black spots in a red sea a toothpick to pluck out my wings nestled deep in the grooves of your mouth these crushed leaves, a brutal brew warning, they tell me grow not sullen fruit, fallen leaf only wait, for you are soon to be sun drunk and dead.
morning hope holds a frozen form, my tears have calcified the stroke of summer’s supple hand awakens a once-shivering sleeper held riverside ice one more step, once more taken further onto the vilification of that tired killer under burning suns, magma will ooze from the blade of the executioner next, i lay my head on that marble block let the scythe descend upon my stretching neck stretching, stretching i spy faces in the crowd, stones in their hands weighted suspicions balance eagerly, they think me a harpy they prepare for a broken blade, for the killing hand to be struck down through lightning, or the working hand of hades, i call upon nothing, i mouthe no incantations my twitching fingers ache to snap, to move through air, topple mountains and trees, turn eager stones against their keepers i do nothing as i crave this, after long nights spent in windowless chambers hearing exclamations for exsanguination i crave this i wanted the pyre i wanted the thaw, an undeniable, unbecoming desire to consume me, to consume the watchers too let us burn together, let them have their delirious delight through my delectable demise i am their savage sister and they give me no choice since they wanted a picture, a souvenir, a commemoration of a wicked woman, a wild wench, they want a lock of hair, a single rib, my fingernails and tongue, i welcome them to it, let them keep me in their homes, on their mantles, on their dining tables let me stretch my shadows in the depths of their abode let me darken their doors, i will fade the blood marked there. He will come for their sons. they will keep me above their wells and i will whisper to neptune. he will come for their daughters. finally, when their homes overflow sanguine i will leave them with their gaping loss let their tears calcify too let them feel that hollow ennui and soon, when they whisper the wind will shake when they scream, the world will move as their hands whip through air, thunder will boom only then, will they see we are all wild women we are all senseless scourge we are all harbingers of horror we are all wicked and all wicked women die too soon i will wait for them for my new savage sisters my nefarious novices come, there are still words we must say to the sky, to the sea, to the wind come! there is malevolence to make come! there is sorrow to sow
i sleep in a violet vase clear walls for the watcher through the curtains i eat solid cubes edges scratch my throat, bloodhungry vulture i scream a silver sorry and bored blossoms rush forth, petaldeath pelts disinfectant on the window pane can they see me now my skin is peeled, i’m fiercely burned wars won on a pyre choice parts of me soon to splint so tender, markedly sweet, translucent-tree, leafmeat sweet-sorrowed, nascent nymph unholy veal passive disc watches me futile fingers scratch rose rims, falling flowers dance diametered forking fingertips, bracing breastbone, thorning thigh, red sea opens, sourstaff split none can be wasted spilling without just cause all watchers turn to glare while i waftwise waltz in the room pupils dilate dawn, saliva drips down mourning mouths charter chanting chins my meat spreads south, compass disassembly i wonder who will have my magnet heart, who will have my arrow-blade brain i find myself sliced and speared bred for the hunt he tells me it’s a service, she had no wild in her. she hid no wild in her slippery slight slaunt. bred for the hunt they whisper it’s a delight, she had no wild in her. she hid no wild in her soaring sap sinews. bred for the hunt i murmur it’s a slaughter, she had no wild in her. she hid no wild in her simple soiled spite. i nod my chin jerking, his breath already smells that forbidden fruit i close my eyes, lower my fork, i feel the fare fuss, i tear a trembletithe holding my breath, a mile at a time i bite and i bite i am sacred and true i am withered and gross i am flame and ash i am wave and foam i am flesh i am home i am divine i am decay i am none i am done.
Chinasa-Nnenna is an Igbo poet, essayist, and orator. They have a marked interest in themes of consumption, death, the “other”, ancestry, and the mystical. Chinasa describes herself as an orator and emissary of sweet spellwork. They post poems as well as essays on their Substack: https://ch1n4sa.substack.com/
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