Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 2



Ernest Chigaemezu


You Are Undead to Me

12am
The breaths leave your lungs, and I want to stretch my hand to feel them as if they are a gust of sea wind. Your body swaddled in our fleecy duvet is an evidence that you are here, with me. My hand running through your hair is extra evidence. You move. I turn to face the other side, returning to myself.

2am
If only I knew sleep so intimately.

3am
I believe it is okay to want someone even when they want to go. I think it is alright to see things in a different way. I am very certain you have a verdict good for us.

5am
The sound of the ash tree crashing against the windowpane is bothersome. I close my eyes and begin to say the names of all my KD pupils in my mind. Outside, the wind is busy and I can hear the rain drop so furiously on the aluminium zinc like pellets. I drown in the storm, in the dark, in the stillness of the room, in your breaths.

6am
It is still dark, but I try to get to the bathroom to begin a ritual in front of the mirror. I find a candle in the cabinet and light it. The face I see belongs to a carnivorous human; eyes swollen with open questions, thick triangular lips, cheeks overripe with nothing. The face is an empty jar. Something to wear when colours become expensive. A face with which I can say to myself, tomorrow, I’ll decide how far we’ll go.
When I return, you begin to hum the song about burning skies as you prepare to leave.

7am
You used to be light, life and laughter. Yes, an undiluted magic. Your eyes, grey-coloured missiles. Your hair, a cascading masterpiece. Your mouth, an oasis of desires, sinking me again and again. You were love personified. Water. Home. Nectar. Flames. Breaths. Raw sweetness.
You were sunshine, blinding yet wholesome.

8am
I am asleep and the world is asleep too.

12pm
I learn of your passing while ogling the photos of an irresistible poet on Twitter. One minute I am seeing the images of a wrecked Boeing 737 Max 8 bound for Nairobi and the next minute, I am feeling an upsurge of perplexity and fear that you are buried deep in the debris. The panic I feel afterwards is overwhelming, a panic I am too afraid to sense, so it sits solidly in one side of my heart as I try to figure what living without you would entail. I am reminded you are impossible to forget, like an unsettling storm slipping through my fingers, or a burning country, and I have been the one running from every hurt.




Simple Girl, Simple Wants

The girls you love are simple & unrepentant

seagulls named after their own wounds

waiting to find home on shores

waiting undone. They used to know

the warmth of their beds

now they kneel on your palms

& you begin the ritual of

reading their bodies like scriptures.

The verses tumble from your throat

beg them to unfold before you. They do.

When you touch the hem of their skirts

& say something about football

or skydiving, they pause for days.

A flush of nervousness. Quick breaths.

You fill up every offered space

Mouths. Thighs. Minds.

The sweethearts become candles burning out

but you pretend not to know what they want

or how each is a puddle on soft ground.

They leave through the passenger door

that is your mouth & never come back.

You will find new ones to uncover mysteries with

New solar systems, tiny worlds.




See What Losing You Has Done To Me

The first time it was me, blooming, tender & nurturing the bulge around my middle. The happiness was untidy, almost foolish but I tried so much to contain it, to remind myself that learning to wake up each morning to the thought of carrying you was worth cherishing. As the weeks passed, I waited & watched as you grew inside of me until there were hardly any spaces for myself. The other time it was you, smelling of talcum powder & raw hope. You were only twenty so there was a bucket-list full of things you wanted to do & the adulting world was proving to be much of a struggle. Yet you fought, with loud courage you made me lose every doubt in words, or feelings, or reasons, good lord, doubts too strong that I suddenly forgot how to unwind. & when you decided to stop breathing, when you were certain it was time you vanished from here, I sought for answers from the fragments of the body you left behind. Now it’s me, believing that I have to create a new life, one in which you are a broken skin, or a house full of pain & I am the one trying to convince myself that someday, any day, I would get to realize the beauty in your absence rather than to simply exist. I recently attended a support group. At first, I was unsure whether speaking about you would mean anything at all but now, I can walk into that room, feel no judgment & be confident that I will survive all these.


Ernest Chigaemezu: "I am a 20-year-old Nigerian writer and poet. I am presently rounding off my degree programme in English and Literary Studies/History and International Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka."




Top of Page

Table of Contents






Visit our Facebook page          Visit us on Twitter


editors AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com
webmaster AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com