Fires we inherit by Enajite Igho

i wonder when the very first twig caught aflame
or maybe it wasn’t a sole twig
maybe it was a whole branch
consumed all at once
the first time that a hand was raised
an act of violence
taught as an act of love
when the bush fire began,
did the deer,
did the foxes, run?
did she run?
after being scolded
for not attending to the household
when the smoke chokes out the last doe
just as
the smoke of the kitchen heavy in the air
causes her to cough
while she stands
her body aching in pain
and in desire for so much more
on the news,
people in suits debate
the end of a Disaster.
like it is a single event,
that has a finish line with a red ribbon
one can rip through,
tear,
as the crowd cheers on
but it is not about when the last flame flickers out
or when the last branch damp from extinguishers falls
no
the end is not labor to be harvested in the present
one may never taste that fruit

it is not the first sharp intake of clean air when the smoke clears
it is
the regrowth for the future
the flower buds that start to sprout
from charred grounds
how many Egwaikhides in the future
will resemble you?
have your nose?
or your white freckles?
will lilies grow where lilies once were?
or will magnolias replace them?
the end will look nothing like you
it will be a child that recognizes the intimacy of a hug
daughters that climb trees
without the camouflage of their brother’s clothes
the hummingbirds may chirp again
future generations will use their lips
to rediscover the native tongue
the end of Disaster
is that I will know how to say
i’m sorry
i’m proud of you
to the generations to come
the landscape will be unrecognizable
while simultaneously so familiar
one can be admire the lilies of the valley
and yet acknowledge
the natural disaster,
the trauma that existed before
long after your name has been said for
the last time
a child takes a mango from an elder’s hand
Thank you
the elder withholds the fruit a bit longer
and the child grins
then tries again,
Uzokhan

Author Bio

Enajite Igho (she/her) is a first generation Nigerian American poet and storyteller whose work considers how storytelling can be the aloe needed to soothe intergenerational wounds among women of color. She explores themes of love, sacrifice, and loss, while also creating space for narratives of joy and self reflection. An avid baker and amateur crochet artist, Enajite resides in New York with her cat “Baldwin.”

Tags

#family #intergenerational disaster #healing

Image Credits

Courtesy of the author.