I didn’t like that place we lived in
before you died: the imposing silence,
the sad children, the purple skies, the rains
that threatened to fall but didn’t, the times
I came back home to power outages,
the reading under kerosene lamplights.
The air wasn’t as romantic as you said,
nor the meadows enough to be lusted for.
If you hadn’t gushed over the terrain,
the views from the windows, I would have
gathered the guts to tell you that despite
the affordable rents, the absence
of people who intimately knew us
and our families, we should have left,
that even though you were almost forty,
you didn’t deserve to die this forlorn.
I didn’t like taking off my clothes
and lying naked in bed due to the heat.
I panicked any time I felt something
like a spider crawling on my skin.
I woke up more than five times each night,
sweating, waiting for the power to come on.
Though I liked how the moon was almost always full
and that we lived close to the river
though we couldn’t see it, the stories
our neighbors told their children about it,
how the river had strong arms that pulled
children into her mercurial belly.
Wasn’t the maid who agreed to work for us
so genial that her kindness was nothing
short of a miracle, as were the women
we met at the market, who smiled at us
when they assumed that we were brothers,
but wasn’t horror unconcealable
on the canvas of their pious faces
when they found out that we were lovers?
Okwudili Nebeolisa’s poems have appeared in Threepenny Review, Sewanee Review, and Cincinnati Review. A finalist for the Granum Foundation Fellowship Prize, he is a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he won the Prairie Lights John Leggett Fiction Prize.