2020 Open Call , Poems - Ugochi  Okoli



To the Broken Ones

By Ugochi Okoli

You were not taught too many things about love
Your father was a drunk who wore his heart on his fist
As he laid his love upon your mother’s brown skin until it turned black
Your mother stayed, there was no going back
She said the black skin was made to withstand pain, tear and crack
She glowed with the healing power of ‘Abuba Eke’
The python’s fatthat trickled down her skin
The oil your fingers took to the parts of her body
Where her shaky fingers would not reach

You were not taught too many things about music
But your mother screamed out sad melodies
As she called upon her ancestors
You sang with her as a boy
Sometimes you sang alone into your pillow at night
But you became her ancestor when you were old enough to hold a knife
When your father’s blood trickled down your hands
And the neighbors praised your bravery
They said it was a good thing you look like your mother

You visit your father sometimes in prison
Not to give him a reason to live
But to listen to him sing you some tearful apology
Maybe it will fix your broken
Give you a reason to live
You were not taught the right way to be a man
But you never wanted to be your father
So when your palms traveled across the face of the one you love
You knew you only needed a mirror to see your father



Ugochi Okoli is a writer from Anambra State, Nigeria. She is a graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and an avid reader. When she is not reading or writing, she is working as a communications officer for NGOs’ to improve the condition of education in Nigeria through policymaking. Ugochi hopes to connect with, teach and heal people through her works.


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