On Deserving/ Undeserving Love
I am walking down memory lane, and the streetlights cast my path with wreaths from our dead marriage. I stop at a cursed tree, pregnant with affliction. Jutting offspring of dried-up leaves; horses and mules eat of. A thrum after plucking. You are that galloping wind returning to me like it never left. Memory, like you, without whom my body would speak no evil; the figurines on the shelves I see across the street windows are tired. Tired (and still) they make even the pictures in frames cry. Broken bottles on these streets have my blood in them, they are scattered and everywhere like Jesus; all you have to do is call with a mead in your mouth.
I am walking down memory lane. Did you see me? Wailing solo. At the scuttling mouth of a river. Ever so divine. Pristine, as gold. My neck draped in bust, my feet unglazed and hard-baked from the scorch of sun—terracotta. My lips bare and dry—terra firma—they sing of ache and rejection. Permit me this once, Beloved, to look upon my lowly works and exhume a part of me which yearns to deserve you. Not this flitting rage; not this stray affection; but something real.
I am walking down memory lane, and like every lane, there are narrow passageways, hedges, or trees. Something of a hindrance to this love. Even when you morph yourself into my memory, I wake up not remembering you. Nor this love. Or the man I am to be. I see only brocade silver dust adorning my wife-to-be on a patio field, with a congregation of well-wishers.
i usually would lie with my feet bare & my eyes
traversing toward the nebulous keyhole of heaven.
observing the grey. the blue. the haze. my dendritic
fingers were spectator enough to cheer & catch a
swarm of stories i would have told you if the sky
wasn’t poniarded into fissures.
i gourd our memories, especially when brought face
to face with the rim of your teacup, where i uncork
my body to the safe pillows of your eyes; how you are
stoppered by your strides into a half-baked room,
an ocean of guilt, the corneous beak of rain, & the
strums of a wailing guitar.
ours was a tale about how loss cracks us open & wells
in our hearts thin empty spaces with boxes of guilt lying
around. the distance between our feelings mathed itself
into the spaces of our glabella & now, we have nothing to
trim and mow except the pubic strands of grasses we hoard
& so i ask, aren’t we all called by a swaying bell with
no tongue? i am beginning to agree that time is a
mother because she heals all things. is it this hate?
this incalculable love? this excess of history that
once sprouted out of the lawns of our eyes?
Prosper Ìféányí is a Nigerian writer. His works are featured or forthcoming in Caret: McGill University Graduate English Journal, Black Warrior Review, Parentheses Journal, Brittle Paper, Identity Theory, and elsewhere.
Stephanie Liebetrau lives and works in Port Elizabeth/ Gqeberha. She completed a Diploma in Graphic Design at Cape Technikon. Her evocative oil paintings & collages fuse South African women with natural elements to create hybrids that diffuse the boundary between the real and recreated. She explores themes such as eco-feminism and remains fascinated by the “fragile hieroglyphics” in nature’s design. Her work is often ekphrastic, inspired by poetry, scripture, and sacred texts. She may be contacted via facebook.com/StephanieLiebetrauArt.