A Portrait of My Mother’s Lover as an Anonymous Man

sometimes, you reduce him
to this:
the place at the back of his head
where the hairs have begun to fall out
still, he becomes the size of a small balloon
swelling in your chest.
he sits on a chair in front of a house
you are afraid of everything your father’s eyes have touched
these walls too
where his picture hangs soft with a bricklayer’s hand
and his secret women
how, like the old boulders by River Ethiope,
they have become alive with pain.
how my mother’s husband sits in this picture holding a tobacco pipe
legislating love and pain between puffs
everywhere you see a crack on the wall
your heart breaks open some more.

Kechi Nomu

Kechi Nomu is a 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize shortlisted poet. Her poems have appeared in Visual Verse, Saraba Magazine and elsewhere. Her Chapbook 'Acts of Crucifixion' will be published as part of the New-Generation African Poets: Tano, by Akashic Books and APBF in Spring 2018. I live in Lagos, Nigeria.