Like Scented Mangoes by Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria)

Like Scented Mangoes    by Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria)

I used to like the quiet in this place

Both of us

Seated under the mango tree

Sipping our tea in paper cups

Mum used to come and check on us

—Don’t climb up the mango tree, she said

But after she left you sprinted up

Agile as a monkey

And climbed branch after branch

The sunlight bathing you in the finest gold

And between us the scent of rotting mangoes

I was the fearful little one

Who watched with longing from below

As, balanced on a sturdy branch, you stared down at me

And smiled—You see? You see?

And then, clambering down, we stood side by side

Watching the sunset turn all bloody red

We have grown up too quickly

And I have traveled the world

Tokyo, Japan

Accra, Ghana

America, Everywhere

I have returned to this place

Where the silence now gnaws like rats’ teeth

Gentle-gentle, coolly-coolly

Between us, distance like scented mangoes

Mum’s grave white and marble

Behind the shrubs

Where once we lay side by side

And tasted the fading tea on each other’s tongue

Hands lingering at certain places

Your breath on my neck like warm-water air—

In Memory of a Loving Mother

—Memory like a frozen smile on a fading picture

Like childhood music at Sunday School

La lala

I look up and the flowers are budding between green leafs

Two paper cups lie buried in sand and twigs

I squat to pick them up

But I pick only dust.

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