first it appeared like an oil of rainbow,
shimmering under the sunlight, dancing
with the ripples & stretching toward the
shore to baptize little multicolored stones.
i have seen fire run like an athlete on water.
i have seen it lick a river like a child
does a bowl of his favorite broth. in the place
i come from, i have seen fire dance on the skins of
men who received an impromptu visitation
of misfortune. they say: something must ignite a fire.
what if the nascence of burning is within, would you
call it self-forging, like the malleability of red steel?
i have heard stories of how a memory can incinerate
the soul & make the body: a warehouse of ash. perhaps,
all of us have mastered the art of our burnings;
we’ve learned to feed this flame with water to quiet
our consummations. i know from my childhood, between
my first tooth and first walk, i have accessorized my lungs
with enough gasoline to fuel my continuity. like
holding water in your hands, i submit to the fluidity of time.
Joshua Effiong, Frontier VI, is a writer and digital artist from the Örö people of Nigeria. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kalahari Review, Rough Cut Press, Madrigal Press, Titled House, The Indianapolis Review, Chestnut Review, among other places. He is the author of a poetry chapbook, Autopsy of Things Left Unnamed (2020). Find him on Instagram @josh.effiong and twitter @JoshEffiong
Header photograph and artwork by Jordan Keller-Wilson