Ima Odong

afterlife of flood

unearthing reveal-
ing a      reckoned we
orderly unneat sheathed            
long-ago fenced-in saccharine                 

our home’s miasmatic air
ruptured bellyswell
              relic and harvest
              of augmented hurt

air as putrid corruption               or
transatlantic theft                           or

                this pre-bedrock             this       
                national sustenance       and

                i want my skin to remember
                how it feels to drink clean air

the poem as defunct weather map
flood as post-sacred disaster    
post-god tribulation                      leaving only
               some kicked-up dust-rust                          
               swept-up plugged-up                  
               air-tight air-blight          air, air  

my breath is the contradiction                 a present absence gone viral
and why should i have to tell you
why i deserve to breathe?

this flood as recollection of ourselves
               as           there is nothing left for you here
               and        either improvise or pretend                
               and        there’s no one to call in times like these

                               these are all of the times.


Ima Odong is studying social justice and interdisciplinary writing in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rookie Mag and Arts & Letters. She is committed to learning how to love and be loved in preparation for a future free of state violence. You can find her on Instagram: @scantima_.