Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu

January 16, 1968 - Umuahia, Nigeria
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The world came together as one —
Or rather, acted as one, like in the
Days of Noah, in the first lockdown
Following the first pandemic of flooding.

There was the smell of a virus.
Thick and heavy, it held the lungs hostage.
There was a confraternal mass, and between heaven and hell
An iota of odour, bigger than the sinking sun, hung in the stratus

Dour moments followed us to the bedrooms
Where we cringed without facial masks.
As we sneezed, the earth caught cold and shivered.
I never knew that viruses were also weapons.

Vaccines became the new baptism.
Darkness descended quickly every evening
With patterns of winter during wars of attrition
Global hate paused as the clocks ticked loudly

Hostilities ceased.
Material envy retreated to
The back pews of desolate churches,
Fragile and lonely with the silence of the wilderness.

The beasts of the earth visited on tiptoe — as hard times
Would come and go;
We were reborn, and clutched at the saddened minutes of
Borrowed sanctity.

Holed up in lacerated mattresses and hovels of death,
Many made music alongside silenced choirs
That hummed trembling hymns from distances brought nearer home
By visuals of horror.

The earth was on her knees,
Addled by the haste of her own funeral,
Subdued by a thunderless, voiceless rainstorm,
Cremated without the need of wood and fire.

The smell of the virus came with the intensity of balmed sin.
It was sin itself.
Recovering from that attack, that invasion, that lockdown
Would require the touring strengths of the dove and raven,

Who would cruise on the wings of passing time
To secure a landing word of caution,
With or without olive branches on their beaks, displaying
Redrawn maps of fumigated paths and ravines of earth.
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