A Man is Two Gravestones, by Blessing Omeiza Ojo

Mortals, my father says, come twice before they finally hit
the eternal rest button. By this he meant, a man is to two gravestones,
that a man drowned in the slave ship with his dreams, his master
and the sailor can be gifted a chance to own a tomb in the afterlife.
That the bodies burnt by a country for loving themselves above
other things could sit on their monuments, rewrite their epitaphs,
and supplant the corpse flower sprouting from their bodies
with hyacinth. Something I am not supposed to share:
after my father’s departure, I haven’t seen him in a body
but as a ghost in my sleep. And sometimes, he shadows me.
I haven’t touched his skin, soft and sheepy, like my first child.
And as I write this poem, a yearning forges. How to suppress it
is a thorn in my flesh. Fine, if he had said grief reincarnates
into different bodies. I am not saying my father lied.
He who doesn’t measure sin with mudu knew which tent
God would be in the wilderness, and how to offer poem as praise.
What sin death saw in him, I can’t say. What did he see in your loss?


Blessing Omeiza Ojo—Nigerian poet, teacher and author—is a Best of the Net Nominee. His works have appeared in Split Lip Magazine, Parousia, Olney, Cọ́n-scìò, Roughcut Press, ArtsLounge, Wax Poetry Journal, Lunaris Review, Last Girls Club, Artmosterrific, Trampoline, Praxis and elsewhere. His poem, “Everything Around Us Sings” was selected for publication at the Castello di Duino 2021 International Poetry and Theatre Competition. In 2020, Omeiza was named the Arts Lounge’s Literature Teacher of the Year. He was on a shortlist of Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize 2020, semi-finalist for Jack Grapes Poetry Prize 2020, and the winner, 9th Korea-Nigeria Poetry Prize (Ambassador Special Prize). He teaches creative writing at Jewel Model Secondary School, Abuja, where he has mentored winners of national and international prizes. He is the Chairman of Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, Abuja. When he is not reading or writing, you may find him playing PES. Reach him on Instagram @ink_spiller_1. Say hello on Twitter @donfox001.

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