Chris Abani

Country: Nigeria
Language(s): English

Smoke and ash augur loss the night
My mother feeds her diary into flame,
Sheet by sheet, line by cursive line,
And then a wind weaves through, just enough
To blow a flame back at her, searing her skin.
She hesitates a moment, penitent, then pulls back.
Did she let it hurt for one second too long for regret,
Or for the sweet torture of fire?
She smiles at me: sometimes you just burn your life
And begin again. And even again.
No ink is permanent, she mutters.
No path carved in stone.
I watch the single blister rise on her hand
The size of a baby’s heart.