Ever wonder how journal editors make decisions about work to feature? The Take gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at Mud Season Review. Here, we feature one single poem or flash fiction piece that caught the attention of the editorial team, apart from the signature poetry portfolio or fiction piece in our bi-monthly issues. We hear from the author about the inspiration for his or her work, and we hear from a co-editor about why the poem or flash fiction story stood out.
By Emeka Patrick Nome
In the Killings, We Still Sat by Our Mothers
tonight, like every night
We all rush out to salute the moon halved by the arms of God
children of grief & pure blood. out to the grasses where our
mothers bend to pick the bones of our fathers & far into the distance
gunshots accost the sky behind the hills while we listened –
like prayers waiting to be whispered
our hands folded around the waistlines of our mothers.
it is bloody funny, how the grasses bloom full with green
knowing that our brothers, sisters, lovers, mothers & fathers
are mass of earth mourning beneath their roots
knowing that someday some of us will be buried in those fields.
we imagine the snipers run out of bullets, & say prayers
that start with the names of our mothers
how can we keep dreaming when all the dead folk sing in our pillows?
how heavy is a bed made with the weight of loss?
yesterday, who’d have thunk about living into the next dusk?
we hear the owl cry of bearded men chanting allahu akbar
& we feel our mothers’ sobs walking to us –a tiny
shriveled child bathed in blood & smell of dying
when we open our hands we find flowers afraid to bloom
& our lips shiver as we name them after our mothers
The poem is a subtle attempt to capture the brutality of Boko Haram, a jihadist rebel group in Nigeria. To explore communal loss, love and unshaken solidarity even in the face of terrorism inflicted on the Northern region of my country, Nigeria. I wanted to illustrate the mutual blues and anguish felt by mothers and children in a situation where the fathers are either dead or dying.
From the Poetry Editors
Our best poets are truth-tellers. They bear the weight of their own reality, even as they recast its violence so readers can bear to see it, too. Emeka Patrick Nome’s recounting of suffering and loss floats across continents “like prayers waiting to be whispered.” His poem pushes the edges of imagery, form, dialect, punctuation. The result -– his questions sing the loudest. We ache at these lines “how heavy is a bed made with the weight of loss?” and “yesterday, who’d have thunk about living into the next dusk?” We may not have answers, but we are now among his witnesses.