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On Owning a Console for the First Time

I bought a Nintendo Switch last November. The first console in my name cost a tenth of my salary. Never owned OGs like the N64 or Xbox Classic, so I swore to taste joy for a whole week each time my eyes touched the Switch. My previous job's paycheck never agreed to this purchase. Thank God I quit and yelled fuck you from the bunker of my heart. But seriously, I abandoned a place that reeked of modern servitude. The console arrived robed in plastic wrap. Before powering on this handheld treasure trove, I paused to reminisce. I laid the meat of my past on a slab wet with the juice of a recent slaughter. The meat throbbed with terror until the knife located a slice of memory relevant to this moment. Ten years ago, my brother and I owned no console so we licked our wounds by visiting game shops. The catch was that we often skipped church to play. It was the PlayStation 2 era, and we exhausted church offerings on PES 2011. It was risky like overcoming the obstacle of sleeping relatives to liberate a piece of meat from the stew pot. Once we got caught, we always woke up to a bruise or more depending on who wielded the stick. My uncle always stopped to listen for our weeping. If the tears were affluent, his heart gave in to mercy. My aunt's fury grew tall as a baobab tree when we cried. We trembled whenever she drew near, stick in hand. She was the menace of our lives. She was the harbinger of bruises. Bruises were the imprint of disobedience that seemed alright to carry around after outlasting a night of sobs. Sometimes the bruises felt heavy to hold like faith in God just after the visit of misfortune and its many children. One day, during math class, it rained and time ran quicker than we often begged it to. We were home two hours later than expected—the recipe for a thrashing. It took two days for the bruises to stop caring when we poked them. To celebrate, we dug out laughter from the ruins of our battered bodies. We dressed the air with joy that swept away the torment in our throats. Let's do this again? Sure, why not? I'll buy some paracetamol to give us a head start. Laughter happened to us again. 

Michael Akuchie's poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Rumpus, Cosmonauts Avenue, Lost Balloon, Drunk Monkeys, Ecotheo Review, Whale Road Review, and Gordon Square Review. His debut chapbook of poems, Wreck (The Hellbore Press) was published in 2021. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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