REMEMBERING THE DEAD

after four years

of my grandfather’s death,

my father plants a flower in

his memory at the facade

of our house. This is how to

remember the dead, he says,

his heart enamored by the

ache of watching how every

day leaves without his father’s

letter in the mailbox,

without his father’s voice

over the phone, stretching

his love to his son.

 

 

Sometimes I imagine how it

feels to lose a beloved to death,

how my father straps courage

to his heart despite the longing

for his dead father, how every

night he enters his father’s room

to meet

old newspapers, his toothbrush

wrapped in dust, his slippers

abandoned at a corner,

his wristwatch on the TV,

his stereo on the shelf,

everything that remains

the evidence of the

memories of his

spent life

 

 

SOMETIMES WHEN BOMBS EXPLODE

My father orders us to kneel

on the floor of our room,

our hand stretched out

like the bowl of a beggar

waiting to feel alm dropped

inside it, our lips whispering

Yah Allah as smoke darkens

the sky.

 

In other houses, the children

will scream and

their mothers, their hearts

heightened by the blasts,

will shiver.

 

Sometimes my mother tiptoes

to where the door struggles to

remain unbroken by the rapid

bullets, to where my father stands,

pretending to remain unmoved

by the footsteps of people

running for their lives.

 

Sometimes when the bombs explode

we remain frozen, fixed

to our beds, afraid to look

outside through the keyhole,

scared of hearing the cracks

of our walls, terrified by how

quick we surrender to the fate

of dying, of becoming listed

as victims of blasts,

of watching our lives

vanish in the smoke of bombs.

HOW WE BURY OUR DEAD

Sometimes we sort them

before burying them:

Hazim, killed by bombs,

age 23, Rukia, 19, her dead

body found in bed,

her unclaimed body

at a morgue, Hazia,

12, buried in a mass grave,

her mother the forlorn

woman grieving all day.

Hanthan, 18, his dead

body buried under the

rubble. Adiza, 13, her body

reeking of gasoline, her

shredded cloth littering

the venue of the blasts.

Hadim, 23, his body

drilled by bullets.

Rheya, 40, dead

by bullets, her blood

thickening the soil,

her cold hands folded.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Rasaq Malik is a graduate of the University of Ibadan. His poems have been published in Rattle, New Orleans Review, Spillway, Poet Lore, Michigan Quaterly Review, Minnesota Review, and elsewhere.

Ngiga
editor@ngigareview.com
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4 thoughts on “Memories carved by shrapnel: Three poems by Rasaq Malik”

  1. Rasak does wonders with words and so he creates a luicid Rasaksque’s poetics for himself seen through lines that blend with emotions they draw, seamless free verseThese lines are screenshots from long grief pools that have settled in Nigeria. Rasak’s poetry is a site for words and what they stare within the mind: grief and empathy.

  2. Rasak does wonders with words and so he creates a luicid Rasaksque’s poetics for himself seen through lines that blend with emotions they draw, seamless free verse. These lines are screenshots from long grief pools that have settled in Nigeria. Rasak’s poetry is a site for words and what they stare within the mind: grief and empathy. Rasak is a poet!

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