DAY SIX OF ISOLATION (a poem by Chibueze Obunadike)

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what do we miss most in the quiet?
the cruel machine of life finally grinding
to a halt, leaving nothing but the heavy sound
of exhaust smoke & our tired bones behind.
what do we miss most in the quiet?
what do we do now we can finally slow
down long enough to hear ourselves breathe,
our thoughts saying all the things they've
been keeping from us?

i am sitting in the parlour, unwashed hands
folded in my lap & i can hear everything.
the neighbours going at it all the way across the yard,
the newborn on our street crying for the fifteenth
fucking time today, the fan above me, spinning, oblivious
to all the things trying to swallow our world whole.

i am tired of waiting around for something to happen,
say, news of a cure, news of a friend's death,
news of my mother accidentally getting sneezed
on in the street or something, our futures wrapped
up in this knifing silence.

day six & we're still mourning, still hoping,
fingers clasped & eyes glued to the news, watching
the numbers rise like smoke from a burning building,
the whole world set on fire.
what have we missed most in the quiet?

Chibueze Obunadike is an undergraduate student at the University of Nigeria and an alumnus of the Singing Bullet Workshop. His works are published in The Best New African Poets 2018 Anthology, Kreative Diadem & CFW Freedom Magazine where it was recently awarded the Collins Eleisoro Literary Prize. His chapbook was published by Poets In Nigeria in 2020.

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