By Praise Osawaru
My father barges into my room in the dead of night & says:
Are you sleeping? He sees my eyes, then realizes that slumber has no grip on me.
In his face, I see the calmness of a manatee. He sails warily to & fro in the space
before my bed, & in his snail’s pace, I feel a frisson of forlornness. The fan is at
its lowest yet my body shivers. A recorder goes off in my head & his voice animates:
Do you know it’s past midnight & you’re still watching a movie? It’s not the
first time, so when he halts & sighs, I hold my breath & brace myself.
So if this pandemic doesn’t end, your mom will remain two countries away?
Nothing dominates my mind, except the image a man, taciturn in bed, pillow clutched to
his chest. He should be sitting on the sofa, his wife’s head quiescent on his lap, both watching
re-runs of The Johnsons. I say: I pray it ends soon. For a few seconds, I hear only my
thumping heart, the sound of oxygen covertly slipping into my lungs & the fan’s blade
slicing through the air. & when his eyes flicker, I read that as: I pray so, too.
He exits my room & I am by myself, hearing his footsteps recede down the corridor.
Praise Osawaru (he/him) is a writer and (performance) poet of Bini descent. He’s a Best of the Net nominee with works appearing/forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, FERAL, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Kalahari Review, Serotonin, Sub-Saharan Magazine, and elsewhere. He was longlisted for Babishai 2020 Haiku Award and shortlisted for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2020. Find him on Instagram @wordsmithpraise and Twitter @wordsmithpraise.
This piece is a part of DISTANCED 3.0.