The Ghost of Jevanjee by Sheila Nyanduaki Okongo Omare (Kenya)

Second place Poem

The Ghost of Jevanjee by Sheila Nyanduaki Okongo  Omare (Kenya)

You knew he would visit you,

sitting on the concrete bench, alone, pretending to be immersed in an old book

He greets your silence like an old friend

and stays there.

He will bother to describe the trees to you

each one of them

points at the shrubs by your feet and say- choose the one that speaks to you most and I’ll give you its  name.

The sun will burn your back for attention

the ants will pilgrimage up your skin like hungry hands

but you will do nothing about it.

He will tell you this- when the imminent rain comes, don’t run away from it

allow it to wash your shadow clean

until it no longer darkens the ground above you.

And that even there,

in the midst of  love oaths

buried earthworms

hands pressed together in worry

planned sabbaticals

eagles’ droppings

‘I am the bread of life’ sermons

thieves with no faces

memories of sex

great jokes told with closed mouths

smooth stones and potted flowers.

Even there,

you will find two friends:

Wrath, which burns but is sweeter

and Mercy, which suffocates but is lighter.

Choose one,

and it will give you your name.

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