Chukwukwe Eugenia Adaku
’Will you put this is a poem?’ he asked as he kissed her ear. She laughed and replied quite softly. ‘No, this is too public for that. My poems are private.’ ’Why, what do you mean?’ he, only mildly curious, couldn’t be bothered by her strange answer. She, readily willing to explain ‘Poems are for private things. For things that have no other way of expressing themselves. For things that have no way of growing wings and escaping the confines of your heart. For things that are far too private to be brought out by anything but a poem.’
He had stopped nuzzling her neck to gaze at her now. ’But,’ she said ‘this, us, we. We have already shared this with the world. The grass, the trees, the moon and earth. They know us. Each breath we have given sends our words — our poem— out into the air. It’s public, too public for a poem that captures the quiets of the heart. This, it doesn’t need to be written. It shouldn’t be written. Our poem has already been read by the stars.’
‘If I could, I would devour you. I would eat you whole, consume you mind, body, and soul. Because I am a selfish person. I want you all to myself. No one else may have you.’ He said to her, as they lay tangled in each other. Her reply came with a sleepy smile. ‘There is a part of my mind which understands the intended romance in your statement. That part is wooed by it. There is also a part which insists upon my realizing the reality, the literal. You, my dear, are a cannibal.’ He placed a kiss on her head. ‘Well, we’ll have to work hard then, to make sure that you are only wooed. We will make you want to be eaten. We will make it so that part of your mind which is literal, is quiet, so when I whisper sweet nothings into your ears, you are completely swept away. Lifted off your feet by my obvious romantic intention.’
‘Talk to me about something,’ he said. They lay side by side in the grass. The air had been warm earlier, wrapping them in a blanket of comfort, but was rapidly cooling off. It had the desperate aura of the last warm night of rain. ‘Oh?’ she asked, raising an eyebrow and smirking, but not looking at him. He wouldn’t have seen it anyway. They were both of them gazing intently at the stars. ‘What?’ ‘Anything,’ he sighed out, closing his eyes and savouring the cool caress the wind. ‘Anything, hmmm? Very well,’ the fireflies danced in front of her eyes, quite literally the picture of romance, as the bugs tried desperately to find a mate for that night. She focused her eyes past their lights, to those in the sky, making up stories for them. Opening her mouth, she caught the taste of rainy memory before she spoke. It tasted vaguely bittersweet. ‘It doesn’t often like its matters pried into, though so often people do. No one understands that anything is everything, but is really a private entity. One is never speaking without encroaching on any thing’s territory. Over the years, though bothersome, this occurrence has ceased to bother It.’ she told him. He stopped looking at constellations, tying their shapes into the history he studied. Instead, his gaze found her. However, she still wouldn’t look at him, even though he was looking towards her. She began to spin stories of fireflies being fallen stars, their mating calls an attempt at signaling the twinkling entities above for help. He propped himself on one elbow, not relishing the feel of wet grass under his new position. Where he had been, the grass was dry and warm. The previously unoccupied space, on which he now rested, had accumulated dew, and was not comfortable. But he needed to know. ‘What… was that actually any thing’s story?’ he waited a brief pause, not even enough for the beat of a heart. ‘That’s not what I meant when I said anything.’ She laughed, loud enough to disturb the fireflies. They drifted elsewhere quickly, on pure instinct, but staying in sight of their brethren, the stars. ‘I knew what you meant.’ she closed her eyes and turned her head towards him. Slowly, deliberately, she inhaled the earth deeply. Her exhale came with the following words. ‘Too often people speak of anything in terms of its property, as it encompasses, and therefore owns, everything.’ she opened her eyes and smiled into his. ‘I felt this upset anything. So I told its story. The very least I could offer, it seems. To offer more would be to offer your comprehension.’ ‘No need to be so sardonic.’ he stuck out his tongue. Her grin grew wider.
They lay beneath the stars, as was their usual haunt. ‘What are you thinking of?’ he asked, staring at her. She stared into the void between the stars. ‘Everything,’ she told him. ‘Everything?’ he was incredulous. ‘You are thinking of world hunger and new shoes, of your ethics homework, and nuclear fission?’ ‘When I say everything,’ she breathed. ‘I mean everything.’