From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Fiction

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it is a windless evening in april/ & night drinks my exhalations /in my palms are corpses of fireflies as i sprawl/ here, my aching back reclined /on the breast/ of a half-timbered wall/ above me, the glorious reincarnations of fireflies /mostly with autopsy reports/ “a child’s curiosity” / to steal into a child’s body/ is to be granted magic/ to breathe in wonder/ it is to want eyes /that mirror gods too perfectly, they flutter by, in bodies of/ butterflies calling you by your poison /beyond the cliff

in this ritual /of stargazing/ i whisper to dots of light /hoping they ripen /into an answered prayer /just one, a windfall /where i can be the first to catch it /make a solitaire/ for my mother’s body/ asleep without a bedspace /in her casket /the many things to outgrow isn’t wonder, isn’t /this solitude of gazing/ like a head lifted before the water level rises/ to the nostrils/ of the drowning/ i want to imagine my father in a garden of stars/ but his reality on earth was that he sold coals/ to make a living /i remember /how he stained everything /blackened the rose petals/ on the tongue of his guardian/ angel/ everyone kept him out of their cotton fields /an uncle said it must be because he was born during an eclipse/ of the sun

“what are you doing/ here all by yourself?” it’s the voice/ of my little sister /kevwe, a girl/ formed delicately in the mold of a thrush/ “i want to teach you/ a song,” she says. and as she sings, i pray /inwardly against the tides rising /in my throat/ i do not want to drown /in waters not stirred by joy/ at least, not tonight/ when the stars are /close, and my noose/ has become a lasso /it’s the third time her ghost would come/ find me here, her smock scented /with petrichor/ the closest she came /one evening/ it was with my twin/ brother who lived only eight days/ & went cold /on mother’s lap/ today, her eyes reflects a falling/ star/ i would leave here/ with the ghost of her song/ which is its echo/ my being pulsing to its every chord, its every /note

i must confess, i am done/ traveling mapless/ in my head, running into bodies /of mist that eat violins/ to cough out owls /in family trees/ my eyelids are heavy/ with what my fingers cannot offload /some days, the only wind that carries a lost /ship to shore is the sigh/ after a faithless prayer /i whisper wishes between intervals of heartbeats/ i’ll sharpen my sickle/ for a harvest/ of dreams

as the starless night/ sky in my chest reaches for the one /over my rooftop, i fall /asleep. i find myself awake/ on the bed of an old man/ knitting with wisps of smoke/ from the necklaced body/ of a boy. i ask him/ what his craft is about, and he says, “i weave garments/ of shame/ for god and country,” placing the weight of one/ in my hands

it is morning/ i wake up with a mouthful of hymns/ for dead dreams /& a rooster /the fallen star from last night’s sky/ dissolved into my eyes /and warmly, begin to snake/ down my face /wiping it with the green of my country’s flag /but it stains my eyes red/ with a scream, dark/ with the dye that colours a gag/ over the victim’s mouth

Martins Deep

Martins Deep

Martins Deep (he/him) is an Urhobo poet living in Kaduna, Nigeria. He is a photographer, digital artist, and currently a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a Best of The Net finalist, 2022. His most recent works have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Magma Poetry, FIYAH, Lolwe, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere. He tweets @martinsdeep1