By Khalilah Okeke

The forbidden land is a theater and I was invited. I arrived discovering toddlers crying under gum trees, lampblack skins dusted red with earth – their mothers weren’t searching for food. My room had a mattress stuffed with the feathery fiber of a kapok tree, it sagged with the impression of resting bodies.

In morning I traveled to Kakadu’s edges, its tides threatened with man devouring crocodiles.

In evening the stage bobbed on the river beneath bursting stars, I watched Erre-speaking descendants spray white ochre from their throats—painting the faces of boys becoming men.

Khalilah Okeke’s work has appeared in The Plum Tree Tavern, Down in the Dirt magazine, The Red Eft Review, The Orissa Society of the Americas Journal, and 50-Word Stories.

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