Prayer to our Dead

(for my late father, V.I)

Our wineskins are empty

the journey stretches into the night—
night biding the fall of stragglers.

a bloodmoon dissolved into the oasis we found,
our emptiness echoed the silence of our palmists.

father, with our last notes, we duet
with things you read psalms to repel.

one wrested my brother’s windpipe
to score elegies by his cold bloodstreams.
my sister sold her loincloth
for the scent of first rain,
but it was your widow’s secret tears
dripping from our rooftop.

we arrive this town
where men stoke embers for a midnight sun.

they teach of prayer to our dead.
how from a mouth purged with saltwater,
words become incense smoke
that finds pathways to the nostrils of mercy.

by an easel, i shape my hands after a censer.
i cast the ashes of my regrets onto a palette.

i say, paint a rainbow over a weeping prophet in a house on fire. paint
a fulani boy protecting herbivorous wolves
from carnivorous sheep. paint

our deathbeds in the arms of those who love us.
make sleep the sweetest for those
who make peace from the ruins of war.

in this room, my every sigh is an invocation.
i leave the door ajar
asking only that you drift in to teach me
how to make balm from your graveside flowers.

soften this stony ground
that the droplets of our sweat may germinate as palm trees
to bleed e n d l e s s songs into our wineskins.

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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1 Response to Prayer to our Dead

  1. L.K. Latham says:

    Lovely! making a balm from graveside flowers rings.

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