Five Poems

~on returning home

The dust in Lubumbashi
during the dry season—
makes me feel lucky I’m alive,
Or maybe it’s just a strange welcome
mat from my ancestors,
A way to re-enter my lungs,
My veins.
At the botanical garden,
I rub a mango tree leaf
& say hello to my grandmother
I’m starting to believe that she hears me
From beyond
She says  “bonjour Ya Lolo”
She used to call me that or Loriki
or nothing when she knew I would
Always answer to her call.
On Thursday afternoon
My uncle stood facing the mosque
He was shorter than I remembered
We met again after 20 years
& an ancient language came alive within my blood…
maybe I never left
maybe some people never let me go

~on how I love

At the botanical garden,
I’m shown the bright yellow flowered
plant from America 
That grows anywhere,
That takes up space 
The guide tells me that he wanted to get rid
Of it but changed his mind 
When he watched its dead
body turn to food for
The very plants it seemed to suffocate.
Maybe this is a metaphor for overbearing love 
That wants to be seen
That wants to give until it’s dead- even 
When it’s dead.
Or maybe I’m just a poet

~on how I loved you

Today I thought of you, hunched over
Our brother’s cot, crying 
I could still hear you say
“Why can’t mum fix my teeth?”
It’s strange, really.
We had fought many times before
I’d seen your body crash through 
A glass table
(the day we went
To bed at 4pm)
I’d made fun of the spots on your body
Of that naive skin of yours! 
But it was a comment about your smile
That broke you down. 
Later that day, you mocked me for comforting you
It was a comment about your smile that broke
Me too. 
You laughed, I was embarrassed 
But I know now, that I loved you then 
Despite your ugly laughter.

~on how I think you’ve outgrown the curse

When I came to you panting,
Sleeping on your couch
You didn’t seem to be running 
Out of breath. 
You need to show signs of escape
You’re not panting,
Have you not been running?
You’re my blood, you must have run
Yet you hide it so well

~on a blue bird that could’ve been you

Your uncle Daddy
Breaks the right wing
Of a little blue bird
& ties a string around
Its left ankle
He tells you that the bird 
Won’t fly away,
It will stay here for you
The following morning 
You and your brothers find it
You don’t say a word to each other
& discard the body.
This poem could have easily
Been about freedom 
Or a blue bird missing the sky
But I ask you instead, 
Can you see how this 
Is a metaphor for your life?


Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

Loic Ekinga

Loic Ekinga is a Congolese writer. He is the author of the poetry chapbook How To Wake A Butterfly, published by Odyssey Books. His works of fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Type/Cast Magazine, Ja. Magazine, Poetry Potion, A Long House and Kalahari Review. His experimental mini chapbook Twelve Things You Failed at As A Man Today was an honourable mention by JK Anowe for Praxis Magazine Online. In addition, his short story ‘Loop’ has been adapted into a short film by Vivanation. He is a finalist of Poetry Africa’s Slam Jam competition 2020 and the Fiction Editor for TVO TRIBE.