renovated bodies – by Okeke Onyedika

I lived many lives before they put me in this body
–Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater

on becoming another we left ourselves behind.
my throat is a country of strangers.
i woke up where my mother’s body
sits: between sunset & sunrise, and denounces

the colour her skin has turned into—say
everyone died many times in their body before they live.
i am finding another space in my voice to rise.

before you learn the songs of how men
grow into a thousand faces & how a river
remembers the number of feet it swallowed,
your body became blood slipping from the arms
of what holds life in its sheath
or what gives breath to a man losing his other face in the ocean of sin

to wear the body of the closest thing to a grave where he will be reborn.
the sociologist broke his tongue to return with many voices,
to say every man dies on his way out of himself,
and falls into the arms of another body.

Okeke Onyedika is a Nigerian poet. His works are published in both online and print magazines and journals.

Photographer’s Note: The line that stood out for me in this poem is “losing his face in the ocean of sin”. I felt this photo matched that line.