Sisters’ Conversation Under a Mango Tree by Madu Chisom Kingdavid

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Nwanyi: One may think that mother is made of stone
or iron - or both. How she was
Smiling when the women were scrapping off her
hair with sharp blades that
Opened up a sea of blood on her head, after she
had gulped rivers bathed
From father's body lying in state. How she was
singing and smiling when fists
And palm fronds were hammering on her body —
down to the market, before
We were banished into the forest of death. How she
would even strap little Nnedi on her
Back and walk miles barefootedly to fetch water from the
stream whose broken paths are
Full of protruding stones. How she would overtoil
herself into brokenness in the
Farm from dawn to dusk even with a roaring belly.
how she would thank those without
Drowning in pangs who claimed her spirit
husband killed father on top
Of palm tree. Ask her whether she killed father,
she would say, "what killed
The fish is in the womb of the river they accused
the bait in vain."

Chisom:  Even before you, she has had six stillbirths,
that made the village called
Her womb "Mortuary of babies." There was one who
came later whom we called
Ahunwa who died a minute he saw the earth. A
boy who would've consoled
Mother for her years of fruitless search of heir
to father's possessions. The
Last that came before you was Ebere - a sickle cell
patient — who didn't even ripen into
Adolescence. The night you were about to crawl
out of mother's thighs, we
Prayed that you'll be a boy but you came
out with a vagina. The midwives
And father sighed silently and left. But mother thanked God
for the gift of you. She named
You "Nwanyibunwa" that a girl is also a child. I think
mother is more than stone
And iron that's why her silences and smiles keep
drowning the village voices.

Photo of Madu Chisom Kingdavid

Photo of Madu Chisom Kingdavid

Madu Chisom Kingdavid lives and writes from Owerri, Nigeria.