When they say, “This, too, shall pass”

i say, what if it doesn’t? what if it has come to stay?
and it is not in my pastor’s face i say this:
an Elijah calling down fire in the language of rain

what if it doesn’t pass?
like a pilgrim who becomes weary decides to settle,
raises an altar of stones and burns a sacrifice

like he names the place after an oasis, and it pours
onto the lap of his descendants

you’ve been the subject of the formula for too long
for your value not to be found in front of an equal sign
imagery:            a serpent, at gunpoint, biting its own tail
which means your value is = 0 = the loop of a noose

i say, what if it doesn’t pass? what if it has come to stay,
like palm oil stain on my Sunday best
i washed and washed again, but never removed

what if it pulls along its baggage into your cluttered room,
empties your bottle of anointing water, jar of olive
and refills them with the ash of burnt photos. photos with RIPs on their foreheads
letters all written in red ink.

what if it unhooks your mother’s rosary from the nail on the wall
and a widowbird perches never to leave. or leave, but after you

what if rather, it knocks, you open the door and say, you’re welcome
in the meekness that hides the fangs of every lamb

what if you played “here comes the sun“, or jazz, over a cup of coffee
and say,         you know, there are a dozen things sweeter than tears
                        like my mother’s soup salted with longing for my father

would you not want to hear grief say,
                        child, here are a pair of wings & a blindfold.
                        go dance on that cliff.

and what if the wings are broken
so you can fall in love with yourself?

Martins Deep (he/him) is a Nigerian poet, artist, and currently a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His works deeply explores the African experience of the boy/girl child. His creative works have appeared, or are forthcoming on FIYAH, The Roadrunner Review, Covert Literary Magazine, Barren Magazine, Cream City Review, Mineral Lit Mag, Agbowó Magazine, Surburban Review, Crow & Cross Keys, FERAL, Jet Fuel Review, Kalopsia Literary Journal, Whale Road Review, Kalahari Review, and elsewhere. He loves jazz, adores Bethel Music and fantasizes about reincarnating as an owl. He tweets: @martinsdeep1.

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