Poetry: MONOLOGUE AT THE FRONT PEW OF AN OPERA by Nome Emeka Patrick
Nome Emeka Patrick is so good, we’ve published him twice this month! After reading this one, make sure to check out his 3rd Place winning poem from our Award for New Poets.
MONOLOGUE AT THE FRONT PEW OF AN OPERA
after Richard Siken
There are so many tongues to switch the songs into without
waking the cats that sleep in our hearts;
there are many notes that begin even before the pianist’s
fingers draw tunes from that black & white machine.
Where are you ? And how are you today?
Imagine this is April, & the sunflowers are proof enough that
we are alive, & the cobbler across the street makes us sandals
that we might never wear. You’re in the bed, you’re out of bed, you’re
in the kitchen making us spag, you’re sitting across the table
toasting to long life though when you say to long life I imagine
you said to the days when I won’t be here, & you’re in the bathroom
singing the walls to mirrors.
After you left, I’d have dreams where a woman with your smile
walks out the door into a dam; on some other dreams, I’m Suddenly
in a bathroom where the floor is a carpet of rubble,
on some other I’m in an empty tub pushing my heart back to fit in
my chest. On some days, the memory of you’d be a violence
& in others, your scent would fill my veins like blood;
How are you? —I trudge the land of my lonely, picking stones
& mistaking them for seeds. It is planting season & the seeds haven’t
sprouted. Anything would grow but a stone —why then
does this grief leap taller than the sunflowers in the garden?
I’m sitting in the opera room & the songs are just shadows
tumbling out of a window. Imagine if grief can be this ordinary & small.
Imagine if you were here, you’d have hummed along the notes
as though a lark made a labyrinth in your throat.
I imagine now that you were here. Even the clouds moving outside
would have been something we could laugh about,
our voices balloons bouncing against each other, tender in the right places.
Nome Emeka Patrick
Nome Emeka Patrick is a Nigerian poet. His work has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Narrative Magazine, Granta, AGNI, TriQuarterly, West Branch, Waxwing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, A Long House, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and Pushcart prize nominee, he emerged third place in the Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets, 2020. His manuscript We Need New Moses. Or New Luther King was a finalist for the 2019 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He writes from Providence, RI where he is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at Brown University.