excerpt from poem by Julia Chinyere Oparah

This red earth

claims me

runs through my veins

calling me to surrender

a lifetime of unbelonging.


Sinking to my knees

in my father’s compound,

I feel the dark coiled roots of unspoken bitterness

Loosen their grip on sinew and bone

Releasing my ribcage.

I take my first breath

Drawing the cicada-laden dusk

Deep into my belly

Letting go of memories

of an ancient hunger


I have not claimed this red earth

She has claimed me

She has renamed me

placing unfamiliar consonants on my tongue.

Daughter of Umochoke

Blood of Mbierre

Child of Obazu.

She does not ask me to swear allegiance

Does not demand that I choose

or forget.

She is not jealous or possessive.

In moments of stillness

I hear her whispering

words of comfort and solace

In a language I never learned.

Leave a Reply