BN POETRY AWARD: Like Scented Mangoes by Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria)

This poem by Arinze Ifeakandu is longlisted for BN Poetry Award.

I used to like the quiet in this place Both of us Seated under the mango tree Sipping our tea in paper cups Mum used to come and check on us —Don’t climb up the mango tree, she said But after she left you sprinted up Agile as a monkey And climbed branch after branch The sunlight bathing you in the finest gold And between us the scent of rotting mangoes I was the fearful little one Who watched with longing from below As, balanced on a sturdy branch, you stared down at me And smiled—You see? You see? And then, clambering down, we stood side by side

Watching the sunset turn all bloody red

We have grown up too quickly And I have traveled the world Tokyo, Japan Accra, Ghana America, Everywhere I have returned to this place Where the silence now gnaws like rats’ teeth Gentle-gentle, coolly-coolly Between us, distance like scented mangoes Mum’s grave white and marble Behind the shrubs Where once we lay side by side And tasted the fading tea on each other’s tongue Hands lingering at certain places Your breath on my neck like warm-water air— In Memory of a Loving Mother —Memory like a frozen smile on a fading picture Like childhood music at Sunday School La lala I look up and the flowers are budding between green leafs Two paper cups lie buried in sand and twigs I squat to pick them up

But I pick only dust.

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  • Arinze Ifeakandu
  • BN Poetry Award
  • Like Scented Mangoes
  • Press Release
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