in The Ink Well4 years ago

I am going home,
My place here is revoked.
I have tied my shoe laces
& fed the birds; I'm going home.
At the door, my hand on the knob,
I hear the steady rush of blood,
The sudden clash of death,
& I must leave, I must leave.
I will not linger longer,
I'm going home.

We twist our hands in prayer and rise with our offering billowing smoke, to our feet, move to the shore and begin to drag the canoe back to the swamp limping from the sea. We see the flicker of light between the bowlegged roots of mangrove trees and it beckons to us, seductive as blood lust after the killing is done. We force the canoe into the darkness, our feet sucking the mud and silt with each sinking step.


Our eye do not leave the invite, even as we divest ourselves of our sea clothes, our iron rings, salt bleached skins within the covers of nude coloured wrappers and blouses, amulets and knives. Our machetes we hold strong within our veined hands as we slash razor sharp grass out of our way, to get to light and maybe, succour.

The drum rise from the undergrowth, from between the lips of darkness, thudding with blood pumping, alive as a moth near a flame. It feeds fire to the earth and pulsates with the shadows moving behind the lights like hands and feet of many gods. We hunger then to be a part of that dance, to loose ourselves within the carnival of unresting bodies, moving within their sacrifices, bloodstains, not their own, gleaming off their lips, their sheen in the savage light.

We imagine these things as we force our way through mud and debris of old boats, dead and dying beasts, eternal trees brooding far into the abodes of stranger lights in the night sky. As we stagger into the flicker and smoke, three women wrinkled brown, without teeth, eyes bright like polished pebbles come, take us by hand to the middle and settle us there. They frown at our machetes, they demand them but we are not trusting yet. Though we hunger and thirst for their welcome, we have lived at sea for too long and we know the ways of men and how they kill easy. Frustrated with our refusal, the leave us alone as we are.

We know bones red with flesh,
Teeth white as ice floes, a sun
That gives no shadow & a moon
That knows no care.
We've wandered berths, unmanned
Islands, heard the woes of trees
Cracking in the cold.
What have we not seen in the deep;
Man raising bloodied knife,
Mercy denied even a brother,
What have we not seen in the deep?

Five old men come and they tell us with their hands twisted into words that we must come and receive our welcome. We have been gone for too long but we have not forgotten our ways; we must meet our gods. They live, their eyes distant, their lips quivering with dread, in the ends of this forest of bones, bowlegged trees, mosquitoes and deceptions. We follow them, unsure.

It is written that gods are made by men as sacrifices of other men to something that no one would name. These gods speak the unnamed one's will, feed on drugs, harsh drinks and goats. These gods do not sleep, they wander all day, all night, mad, spewing prophecies, begging for release. Anyone can be made a god but never women. We know this but we do not feel a sense of safety from the knowledge. We hold our machetes tighter as we move deeper, losing ourselves in the throb of music, and the slowly seeping sweetness of grass in our limbs.

Our eyes begin to itch, as we draw near to the open shrouded space that penned our gods. We stand, a line like slaves before the small opening into the darkened space and the old men beckon us to go inside. To go in, we have to undress. This we do silently, losing our machetes among the growing pile of knives, amulets made at sea while we battled things beyond mentioning. When we are again, beautiful like our first breath on earth, we enter through one by one.

The gods are there as promised, raving mad, stark naked, their members hard as nails, their smell rancid in the darkness. They stop as soon as we enter and their eyes catch our bodies with the simple stupid lusts of mortal men and then they forget prophecy and divinity and seek to devour us beneath their holiness. We are prepared though. From under our tongues, we pull sharpened steel and soon their ululations become screams and the canvass of night cannot hide the blood. Soon all is silent.

We move beyond the men, void of their godhood, deep into their shrine, where they have our daughters kept. We break their chains in silence but when we come out to meet the old men, wandering about in consternation, they hear our voices. We call down fire and watch them burn. We tear through our home, our silent deeds forcing pleas and screams from their lips. Soon the drums stop beating, the fire flickers against eyes that will not blink and then he came, the something that fed the gods with prophecy, he came down from his mount as a shepherd comes after hearing a wolf call.

We stand before him, seven of us, his daughters, long forgotten, long betrayed, long casted out and in our hands is war. He grins in recognition but before we can engage, our daughters throw themselves at us, their eyes feral, their teeth white with hunger. He has them in his grip and we weep even as their sacred blood wash the mud. When it is done and we still stand, he roars his might, raise his hands to the coming dawn and brings the heavens on us.

Our amulets holds the sky long enough, our backs bent with the weight and then like a lightning losing its way, we send the bones of others who had died within the shrine of the now dead gods into him. He burns bright and beautiful and roars, seeking to flee but we are finishing this. We tear into him like fire ants and bleed him until like a parched earth, his skin cracks, his bones pops and he ceases to be.

We walk slow and tender back into the mud and silt, drag the canoe out of its hole, find the tributaries of the sea and slowly, hurts still grieving, we go back into exile, into darkness, leaving behind home burning with its welcome, its pain, its death.

We know the sea,
Her blood lusts, her thirst.
We know the night & lights
That pinch her covered face.
We know death & the price
For peace & sleep, revenge
& what it means to sit
On the edge of welcome.

The End.

📷: Pixabay

©Osahon, 2020.

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