BN Poetry Award: The Ghost of Jevanjee by Nyanduaki Okongo Omare (Kenya)

This poem is longlisted for BN Poetry Award.

You knew he would visit you, sitting on the concrete bench, alone, pretending to be immersed in an old book He greets your silence like an old friend and stays there. He will bother to describe the trees to you each one of them points at the shrubs by your feet and say- choose the one that speaks to you most and I’ll give you its  name. The sun will burn your back for attention the ants will pilgrimage up your skin like hungry hands but you will do nothing about it. He will tell you this- when the imminent rain comes, don’t run away from it allow it to wash your shadow clean until it no longer darkens the ground above you. And that even there, in the midst of  love oaths buried earthworms hands pressed together in worry planned sabbaticals eagles’ droppings ‘I am the bread of life’ sermons thieves with no faces memories of sex great jokes told with closed mouths smooth stones and potted flowers. Even there, you will find two friends: Wrath, which burns but is sweeter and Mercy, which suffocates but is lighter. Choose one,

and it will give you your name.

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