Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2021: Déjà Vu

By now the baby has developed a routine. 

Morning, Maria & I are lovers. 


Since the baby is not watching, 

we can also be our own babies – 


spilling coffee, throwing pillows, 

staying in shower together. 


I make Maria pancakes, the size of stars, 

name each one after all her favourite TV stars. 


It is easier to be a father when you have a dead child; 

easier than making pancakes. You feed 


your partner hoping to suck from their blood 

during lovemaking the nutrients you lack. 


It is easier to be a father than a husband. 

Maria folds herself into a gumball, demanding

to be loved. I recite the Ruqyah till she falls asleep. 

& when it is Dhuhr, the baby, oh! how it loves God, 


jolts us to prayer. Thence we notice a presence not us. 

If a mother stops worrying about her breastmilk, 


a father starts worrying about nighttime. The tears 

of a baby is a plea for rain. 


Maria slouches off to the qibla in a sea of sweats. 

If she forgets a line of the al-Fatihah she weeps 


till I am speaking into her moonshine; the smoldered 

face of a restless baby. It is difficult to be

a father when you are not a father. We are interlocked
in prayer for a baby we don’t have anymore. 


Poem recorded as part of Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2021. Used by permission of author.

Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2021 Winners

Poetry Archive Now! was established in 2020 to enable us to gather recordings from a much wider pool of talented poets from the UK and ...

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Akpa Arinzechukwu

Akpa Arinzechukwu is an Igbo writer. Their work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southampton Review, Poetry Review, Adda, Fourteen Poems, Arc Poetry, Clavmag, A&U magazine, Middle House Review, Lumiere Review, Transition, Pulp Literature review, and elsewhere. They were a finalist for the Black Warriors Review Fiction Contest 2020. Akpa teaches English Literature.


A special thank you to our WordView 2021 poets.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: "An idea that began as a response to the world shutting down has, joyfully, become a way to invite the whole world in. It has been exciting to see the entries come in from different countries, from marginalised voices, from people of all backgrounds who now know this space belongs to them. My fellow judges and I were struck by the immediacy of experience and commitment to language in the winning entries. It's also good to think that the rest of the entries will continue to be seen as an invaluable record of our times."

See the collectionWatch the full Wordview 2021 playlist