Imagine you are the default setting of a war yet to begin.
— from “In this Kingdom of Ash”
Sometimes we are never at home in our homes or bodies or wars or atmosphere. Sometimes we are birds who don’t drink air or fish who can’t swallow it. Wars are waged. Bodies are born and bathed and dying. Language is lost. Friends and lovers, too. If we are “guardians of God’s words” then what is it exactly we are guarding if we are all destined to watch “as death walks in and out of its blackened chapters.”
Bola Opaleke’s Skeleton of a Ruined Song (Ice Floe Press) is what happens when rhythms are abandoned, questions are asked, political warfare is waged, and we can no longer tell what species or person or part or parcel we were supposed to be, but rather only the one we are told to be.
These pieces are not a cry for help, but a rallying cry to never leave memories behind. It’s for Gods who have forgotten, and people who never understood. It’s for the men, the women, the children who are torn from their homes and selves. It’s the asking of forgiveness for future sins. It’s knowing that:
Sometimes, we’re helpless
in the hands of ghosts –
these things that fling us
like rocks, like unsalted venison,
at gods who feed only on dead bodies.