A test for absence using my father & a wild cat as case study

(after Nome Emeka)

there is a strange figure limping outside a vacant room: fickle, volatile. ahead, are wild cats [Xx] in motion, huffing & running into each other—behind, are shadows [Yy] that stand in batches; two projections against a rough surface—one is my father [Y] & the other, a man [y] near death. beneath a beam of light, one cat [X] is placed under the same condition as my father [Y] with partial ruin wedged into their bodies. both [XY] are thrust into a sparse world to wander in the wild. a wishbone is carved into a memorial of something small enough to fit a hibernated cage: this is violence, the persistence of a storm & the way a lineage is compressed & flung into terror. the cat returns with a bloated body & cold paws dripping from bloodshed: a victory amidst grief, loneliness spread across her face like heat trapped in a throat. she recounts the story of how she came into a fishing village & fell into portions of violence; another wild fish, feasting on her hooves, crushing her & dragging her into the deep; a breaking of dawn & a mismatch of identity. are we all not plagued with quitting? an alteration of all that we own & a liquifying of dreams? this is survival & strength & resilience; this is a cat. my father is the second specimen: he emerges with painted hands, absent like needles upon a withered tongue. does death not come in seasons? like flaming autumn dragons, do they not come through holes of crabs? homecoming, chains bound to a memory; my father walks away from his own body; absent from his own soul. outside a dark room, there is a strange figure limping: aborted screams, sucking in a freshly dug grave.

Ayomide Festus is a Nigerian poet. His works have been published or are forthcoming in Ice Floe Press, Quality Poets Review, After the Pause, the Eriata Oribhabor monthly review of Poets in Nigeria, Misfit Magazine and elsewhere. Co-winner of WRR-CAPRECON Green Author Prize 2015, and a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He was shortlisted for the 2017 Chrysolite Team ranking. He writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. You can say hi on Twitter: @Ayomidefestus8.

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