To the women who planted flowers in my body, by Michael Imossan (Lucent Dreaming Issue 13)

How do we tell the difference between light and flight?
Because what is unheavy, unheld by the weight of blood
will always make it to the sky. The cricket knows to
Slice the evening with its chirping. The songbird knows it
must gift its voice to the frailness of morning just like I know
I must gift all my tenderness to the women who planted flowers
in my body and said Michael, go into the world and be a garden;
Go and be tender. Go! Hold butterflies in your bones. Pollinate the world
with your poetry.

If you must know, I was born encircled by women. All the men
I would come to know as family washed me from their breaths like
a night-old whiskey.
Always, a woman keeps singing in my veins; every drop of her voice
calls me into (f)light; says to be a feather, to be the boy running
towards the softness of morning.
I confess, there is something more familial than blood.
I confess, language ends where maternal love begins.
I have known women who hawked the afternoon in a tray
Just to sweeten me into honey. I have known women who spat sunset
into my bones until I became the evening sky: pink and free. Mother, I have dug
myself from the palm of the man who tried to take me from you.
I was only nine and naïve.
And to my aunty, Lizzy, the soft pebbles you planted in
My eyes are still there. I have not forgotten how you held
Me against the stream and said, Water’s duty is to flow, is to
Quench. May you not forget where you come from.
Aunty, I am back and still flowing. Soft as spring.
Soft as the smell of petrichor. Soft as poetry—the (f)light
Passing through me like doves through clouds.
Look, I have wings.

Michael Imossan is an Ibibio poet with an award-winning poetry chapbook For the Love of Country and Memory (Poetry Column NND, 2022) as well as the gazelle A Prelude to Caving (Konya Shamsrumi, 2023). His manuscript Broken in Three Places was named semifinalist for the Sillerman Prize for African poetry, 2023. He is a recipient of the PEN International writers grant.

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Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine and book publisher for beautiful, imaginative and surreal fiction, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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