Tares, Name of a Flower
for Tubor Oburumu
i was born in a field floating on water; perhaps
a garden, perhaps not. they spoke a plot of dark
waters to light & called it Eden.
take, let us create, from precept, man
in our own image, said my father,
as he plucked & offered her a bisexual flower.
i was born, the rose. the imperfect dust of
my grandfathers in heaven, who loved the life
& times we commit to sin, but not the sin i became
by being a boy twice the size & beauty that was
Eve’s. i carried my birth with what my mother
carried hers; on everything tender & soft: on apples,
jewelries, satin & a gait painted by Maya Angelou
with oil & eulogy. my father went planting trees,
in spite of the roses, at the back of a blue heritage
falling on the new century; an old building
for the preservation of family anger
the modern poem calls neurosis. it had windows
of burnt glass stained with broken asterisks.
& each time the small doors are opened, even
more brightly, to our world made of water, like
the light religion breeds, they always want to be
seen, always pre-colonial. its mud-walls had scales,
like the skin of the frogs which croaked from a lake
full of brambles, held up with credo, with stakes,
because my mother was giving birth. outside
the labor room, there was guitar, there was
Marley or who they defined as the music of origins.
there was the poetry
kaya now. got to have kaya now.
got to have kaya now.
for the rain is falling.
words that shaped the cigarette smokes
into a certain joy filled with grace,
there was the drinking up of days dreamt of.
dreamt islands from where rex, son of Lawson,
burned the history of his country into sounds
she won’t let go, even as she laid, dying.
the fathers were no ordinary people born
to no ordinary times that glided between her fingers.
the gripping hard as the waters that break rock.
there were hand-painted motifs for the child,
the rose coming to see the earth
with a green curiosity in his eyes. there were
the maniacs God could not cure of their sweetness.
there was beauty; oral girls who are flowers
dressed in feminism painted with boys.
there was a sister who loved listening to birth
through the keyhole in the door.
my mother kept opening herself, beautiful
with each stroke of the word “push.”
She kept closing, as if at those moments,
she didn’t want me to die from place
of birth. two women living the jinx
at the lonely side of the freshwaters
raised their womanliness in prayer.
yet their hands fell off the rosaries
as the fingers collided with faith.
i had to make a loud cry to break, like sunlight,
into my earth. holding as smile a flower
to every child who knows how to exist
in a lost paradise. my grandfathers, the flaming
swords at the gate of the garden, drove us
out into the sea; me to the south, rowing
my mother as love in a boat using our hands
as oars. He to the north with the fallen angels
haloing above him; which will guard him
to the tree of life. which will guard him
to the tree of life.
for little Amy
the light for this month is the liquid, June-gray,
the sky cannot hold,
sieved love, drizzling gracefully.
this is how i love the girl
who was Alice; i write about the rain
& then mix it with the light
in a mug that has been sitting
on the broken bookshelf for
a handful of years without a hand
to lift it up to new lips. i have
grown my pubic hairs, turned 23.
the same age my father was
when he left & forgot his leaving
on my reading desk.
i still see him in my mother’s
eyes the visual prayers, or her hands
cupped on the table, “tares,
your father is in Haven” i say amen,
because i believe in the second coming.
i believe in waiting too, or him
drinking elixir crushed in honey
every morning & becoming
everything sweet & eternal.
i empty the mug to see clearly,
the meeting place where heaven
could be an art, a 2022 Van
Gogh’s painting of temani brook.
it’s glorious for man to live
by paintings alone, the glory of
what we see colored against
the glory of what we don’t see.
in little amy’s storybook, he suffers
from mystery as i am from
swimming in the waters – the oil
that enflames my origin. after bath,
i walk on the waters the wet obsidian
distances to see the little girl she was,
the almost perfect god slouched
on windows, soft of writings &
love letters, regrettably beautiful in glass.
my father, too, speaks of times like those.
the times she shone as bright as the lights
of a new city. the times
he was sunshine & chock. the times
the family had been a school
broken by water. it’s raining a swamp
filling the gulf between me & my father.
i throw a boat on it, being 23. to get to Lagos,
i have to put on my books, paint my time,
flag the future the horizon,
look zealously at my mother – the little girl
the dropout, in whom is the beauty & the sorrow
holding down my hands on paper to finish this poem.
but how do i begin?
a breakfast of shrimp, & sometimes palm kernel nuts.
school bells & church bells
spatter, in cloud-blue tongues,
their musical notes
for the dreams i carry, the books i give
to the names of flowers:
hibiscus. rose. lily. tulip. which shaped
my universe made endless by words, which is everything.
they say i was born in a farm, a girl,
raised by water as a boy to plant words & watch
my mother sprout purples. i walk on water to school.
the sound from the holes
in my sandals is all the music i shall give to my unborn audience.
& even if the river doesn’t flow from it, the ode to a light
without smoke is written, listened bright.
this is a world not of this world: the child wearing blue shorts
to keep the sky in his blue eyes white. waiting for heaven.
hope is the bridge between craft & dream. we all, like shoot,
grow towards sunlight.
on the porch where my mother met her brilliant death,
there i exist.
i walk from this extinction, with her daylights put on, to the open
word Love full of small waves. her visions are print-friendly,
so i keep to the tablets of night.
the ivory from the moon being the only light
aside those the fireflies burn.
no one can tell from sunlight the joy
of a july morning when a rainy saturday
dawn is the color of sleep; two lovers
deep in bed,
each blessing the other’s bliss with nectarine & talk.
now, everyone is awake except the sun
& my father. they seem to have overdosed on her dreams.
the hand, the night before,
which rested its blood on my heart
reds the still waves on her fingers. the rain in her eyes gathers
as i walk through her past the school gate into the open book
she could not read. the book heavy as the beauty she wears;
the place of her innocence tendril-young,
where my father, a young school teacher, opened her &
read silently the housewife she wouldn’t have become.
but that i should live, she loved both the wild waters & the girl.
father, if you are a word, do not be rape wet with the rain,
do not be rape.
the rains, when they come, they come like flood-storms.
& there will be no sea deep enough to drown the waters.
& the I is the Revolution
the train left in july & rolled till august appeared from mists & brown hills; a house
which is also a month in the rain, of beautiful water but not enough. i sat,
a dream, in the room with no walls just photographs, watching the country
as it sped by. i wanted to be a gardener to the people overgrown with grass.
Jesus, do not defile your journey, said some lovers. i opened a book instead & fell
asleep on long sentences. one was a door, the memory or mirror i have to pass through
when i am done studying the days i have yet held, as sunflowers, in my hands,
when i was a little of angel, a little of foreshadow – building rails with ink & papers.”
the travelers stopped at the end of a word where the season drowned in a pool
of biafran soldiers waiting for their babies at the gate of heaven. the war was over
on arrival but as father & survivor i had to board another taxi to the place where i
was born, first as a painter of the damned then the origin of glory. but there was
no driver just flags. so i began with love, leading myself into the next choir. singing
the dream with acoustic guitar & two colors. at home, lekki was just a flag, just a flag
shot in the vein. that was how love began in the south. a mother under rain, looking
for water to wash the national blood off her baby. i, waves above water, pluck sunflowers
for the little girl’s dress. the angel who do not know my name. my name is (night sky
when on earth the candle lights flicker, petal, wing of macaw, exit, the glory of interventions)
call me lone butterfly & i am human.
at the end of my happiness is a house without doors.
everything is shut in. the sun, too, stays in its oval yellow, the grace.
everything, except the light of my eyes burning from paper. do i exist?
what, in english, is a home surrounded by words/dreams called,
an island or library? with exit signs & curtains floating on green lights,
the people being open places or love altered gloriously
to give to my mother, the revolution, a country of lemony fields,
of what she doesn’t know – perhaps, an ode to flowers, it could be
a future note for the music vast as the sea between me & my fathers.
as she sits on white chairs from across the flag almost an easel,
i could hear her painting the dialysis she suffers from; the only way
to bridge the music the window the reasons why i write about you,
this universe of water where i come from.
© Tares Oburumu
Tares Oburumu is a lover of God and his daughter, Sasha. He writes from 25 kilometers away from the city of Warri, Nigeria. His works have appeared on Connotation press, Bluepepper, Icefloes, Expound, Nantygreens, Naijastories, Tuesday poems, Ngigareview, Agbowo, Woven Tales, Kalahari, Africanwriter, Afrocritik, Konya Shamsrumi, Sentinel, & elsewhere.