Three Poems

Ogu Nnachi

Photo of various fruits at a market. In the center are baskets of kumquats and guava which are marked with signs noting the price. In the foreground are passionfruits. A cut papaya is in the bottom left. In the top right are bunches of mint and bananas in plastic wrap. Behind the basket of guavas are mangoes and a red fruit (out of focus) to the right. Another bunch of bananas in plastic sits atop these fruits. In the top right are yellow fruits (out of focus).

Photo Credit: Aurelien Guichard/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Soiled nappy smell woman

you smile
as you peer at hot Dominican bananas
stuck in plastic
£1.95 a bunch

As you pass by
I think of golden slush puppy faeces
wrapped around a baby’s bottom

Your irises
calm open coconut-coloured
point to the carrots
on that five-foot-six inches high shelf
I have to stretch to reach them

Your face splits open
and your stomach heaving perfume
then settles below my nose

I long for damp cotton wool fingers
to gently wipe your skin
drink your stool smell

I imagine you outside
soaked in a shower of baby oil
laughing as the liquid playfully
drenches your skin

As I pass by
your rankness
touches me gently
stand by the Valencia oranges
holding your twisted fingers.


Dark and Lovely

Now it is time
The soft leather armchair has been covered with an old cloth
The scissors and plastic gloves are on the table
The dye, ‘dark and lovely’ from Brixton
sits on a piece of newspaper
Her fingers hurt from unscrewing the lid

When he arrives
wrapper wrapped around his bare neck and chest
she signals for him to sit down
pours dye into her hands
shaking it slightly into her palms
as if measuring salt before sprinkling it into egusi soup

As she massages his curls
they become a green field of closely-cut grass
then damp moss which she firmly presses
Her thoughts take a dusty walk to Afikpo market
to buy yams and dried fish
She sees her Father and strokes his blind eyes

When she is done
she wraps her pink plastic shower cap from Boots
around Dad’s hair
And they wait
watching Jerry Springer

Mum says, “Dear, sit up, it’s time to go to the bathroom.”
She walks behind him
From his frilly cap
black dye is tickling the backs of his ears and sliding down his neck
like a stream of silent tears
She pushes the cloth up towards his hair to catch the black liquid

He bends his head towards the bath and his
chin gently kisses the rim as he drops his face into empty space
Mum reaches for the cold-water tap
Her swollen thumb aches and feels heavy
The water sounds loud and makes a shape like thick rope
as it drops down the plughole
Dad lets her push his head towards the water
This evening he will point to his empty cup for her to put away

The water slaps his head and the dye melts like butter crying in a frying pan
As it hits the bath the black soup becomes a shower of petals
Dad’s shoulders shudder as his coils greet the cold
but he stays bowed under the tap
lets her
rub the black liquid out of his black curls

“Give me the towel”
She passes the towel to him which is worn and grey
He rubs his hair and the cotton threads suck the black juice
“Nnena, what are we eating?”

I see Mum staring at Dad for a second
watch her
watch a spoonful of black liquid
slide from a batch of curls
and fall slower than a yawn
onto the pale carpet.


I Miss You

Unlike the metal in my right knee
Which will be separated from me
when I am melted bone then ash
I keep your ashes
in my shoulder blade.

Hands like steel detectors
will sift through my dust
trap clumps of cobalt
which will be cleaned and recycled

The iron bolts and screws
that kept me sealed
will be flung
into plastic bins

My pain
escapes in wafts of
unalluring perfume
as I endure another night of lonely sleep

we talk in whispers
You listen
Deep inside my body

We make thready silky plans
like the spider web that hangs outside
the kitchen window
held in place and guarded
by honeysuckle stems.

All I need to do is lift
the window
reach for the web
and drag its fibre of tears
in between my fingertips

Melt it
into a snot trail.
Brown spotty spider
Like our desires

When it is my turn for my body
to face the fire
Who will take my ashes
And bore them into their shoulder blade?


Ogu is a mother of 3 children. She lives in London, England and is a full-time special needs teacher. She has written for a London Afro-Caribbean newspaper called The Voice, worked with female artists as part of a collective called Black Women in View and her short story was exhibited as part of the exhibition at Brixton Art Gallery. She was part of the London Performance Poetry scene in the ’80s and ’90s, an experience which helped her confidence to continue to write and perform her poetry. She has had a prose poem published in Mechanics’ Institute Review. She enjoys writing and finds it a meditative and calming experience. She attends work-shops and writing groups and appreciates the encouragement and support from other writers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email