December 18, 2023

Monologue in a Room with the Portrait of My Dead Father

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Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto


for Dad



Dad, I’ve safe in my chest those bright years of spring flowers.

I’m listening to Wayne, Burnaboy, Yeezy, Kendrick and Rozay,

and writing this piece in-between. I carry every memory of you

everywhere I go. I am a piece of you that is whole.

I see you in everything I see.

I see you in each of my prayers and dreams.

And somewhere I read that when one prays for

long, silence becomes a prayer too.

I see you in my silence.


I bear your thin legs. Two radiant poles.

One afternoon, I was in one of your striped shirts.

Mum saw me from behind and let out your name.

It took me months to realize how much I look like you.

I bear your oval face. There are no claws in this truth.


Dad, a picture of you is in my wallet.

I carry it like a passport. Of course, it is.

You’re half of my entry into this world.


Dad, people tell me so much about birth and maps.

But I just want to live, travel, love, make love and art

and live, travel, love, make love and art.


I know the taste of iron because the earth is so familiar.

But is this world and everything inside of it not meant to marvel?

If not, Dad, how else will I make peace with the things I am yet to lose?


Dad, everything il-legit here is the new legit.

I’ve been meaning to tell you this in my dreams for long now.

And some boys here first experience sex as rape, so I gathered.

And it takes them years to know this.


I want to understand what I do not understand, Dad.

I think of the skies and wonder about its burning breath.

I remember my losses and imagine home drifting through my loneliness.

I read about the nights and feel sad for things robbed from me, from us.


Mum says a lot of sunrises and sunsets about you.

I wish you had enough time to teach me certain things.

Now I have to learn a lot by myself.

But tell me, Dad, if I search well enough, will I find everything I seek?



Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto’s poems appear in The Common, Malahat Review, Massachusetts Review, Ruminate, Salamander, and elsewhere. He lives in Lincoln, Nebrasa, where he is pursuing a PhD in English.

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