Quarter to War

He, She and Golden Apples, by Iryna Lialko

He, She and Golden Apples, by Iryna Lialko

A land slumbers under a blanket of coffeed weeds
With lashings of withered wreaths numb on gravestones
A broken fence, a lone gatekeeper, a shroud of trees
Keep the memoir of ghosts who can only sleep
When relatives insist on visiting, bringing new flowers
Which they then water with tears and dress in silence

The broken branches which are gathered under trees
The faded epitaphs speaking to the sun about memory
The dried leaves cracking with the reticence of rainfall
The shade from the high weeds crowded into themselves
The people crouching to straighten fallen headstones
On their beloveds’ graves, then murmur their departure

The footfalls fading from the streets
The trees departing from the avenues
The sweat evaporating from the skin
Remote traffic sounding like gossip

A lone gatekeeper standing by the gate
Adding up thoughts of differences and loss.

~ Jumoke Verissimo

Jumoke Verissimo is a Nigerian poet and writer based in Lagos. She has read her work across Nigeria and internationally. She is the author of the award-winning ‘I am memory’ (Dada Books, 2008) and ‘The Birth of illusion’ (Fullpoint, 2015). Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including the ‘Livre d’or de Struga’ (Poètes du monde) and ‘Migrations’ (Afro-Italian, ed. Wole Soyinka). Her poetry has been translated into Italian, Chinese, French, Spanish, Arabic, Macedonian, Mongolian, Norwegian and Japanese. She is a recipient of the Chinua Achebe Centre Fellowship.