← Issue 8

How to Question a Country

by Anthony Okpunor

what is a country but the drawing of a line?
—Safia Elhillo

the plague is unseen, therefore bodies are [?]
I want to say a body is a symptom of death.
I want to say [?] is a symptom of [?]
is something in the water     —a [?] parting the nile.
i wonder who stands where a shadow falls, the priest putting up
the invisible eye.

it’s been six hours since we wrote about girls.
since,    the earth survives its new mouth.

to kill a prophet, bring him here, leave him with the sea.

The clearest prophecy is the boy’s body.

today all boys will carry their mothers  every
memory will earn /     the taste of a bullet.
no one can say,     but why is home always
closest to the sea /     what is      it about drowning
that makes this land /     a country?

the answer is the boy’s alternate body.

i want to pray all boys will trace the sky back to
their      mothers, but the /     sun is deflating, we are
holding departure at both ends.

Anthony Okpunor is a Nigerian poet and artist. He was shortlisted for the 2019 Nigerian Student Poetry Prize. He was also shortlisted for the SEVHAGE/Angya Poetry Prize 2019. He emerged as winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (poetry category). He was a finalist for the 2020 Palette Spotlight Poetry Award. He was also longlisted for Palette Poetry’s 2020 Emerging Poet Prize. His works have appeared/forthcoming on online platforms including African Writer, Praxis Magazine, The McNeese Review, Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, Rattle, and elsewhere. He can be reached on Twitter @TonyOkpunor.

The Roadrunner Review nominated “How to Question a Country” for Best of the Net.