For every tunnel, a rose
It’s the night of february 25th 1997, the sea becomes a branch of art again:
My father’s painting of a tunnel. He does this like a child raised by
The classics, when we float between the long island & the forest, almost
A corridor, blurred to a solitary heron calling for the white heat in fellowship.
We are at the Groundless, he whispers , to remind me of some familiar fear or
Water which keeps coming to us in the same vein we keep going to it, rowing
To a vow we each must declare to dissever the fragments of a brother I buried
Here, he a son couched in no ordinary love, articulated in the volume his lungs
Can take when he talks fluently about dying. This is the place with no bedrock,
Just faith & water. Once I have dipped my fingers in it, the sand under the blue
Waves felt the touch from the hand of a fisherman, twice my father sank a forest
Of two palm trees into what he calls Endless. They are endless, the fish with no
Foundations. The mystery six fathoms deep, knowing love drowned here, groks
Itself. Brisking up to us is the water’s quiet promise to keep us salted in the frontline,
Braving the canoe for what we know must not come. He keeps painting, silent to
The years gone, dreaming, if she had been with us, ebra, your grand sister. If
She had stayed a little longer, the sea would have been more beautiful tonight,
Tares. Don’t you think she’s our star? He asks, the net’s edge cutting freely the lines
Across my palm by which, when she’s oracular, she could tell what empty day it’s,
Or if we are predestined for the cuttlefish to come, with ease, & nightly. I grope
To catch my father’s voice with what is left of my ears to listen. His cold prayer,
Which barely survived her death, calls home, which tells me to light a lamp. I know
What he means when his lips droop the words on her last breath: tell the child
To forgive us for these lamps when he’s grown, what we meant was a lantern over
A paper golden on desk, the pen his paddle, this boat his room. Take my hands
For yours, he says finally, haul over the net to where I can’t touch your oar, row. The night
Is endless, so is every rose; the lamp that will lead you out of the sea, always out of reach.


Tares Oburumu writes from a hole a hundred kilometers away from Warri. He’s a lover of God and his daughter, Sasha.

Featured Image: Frantisek Duris, Unsplash

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