ANDY by Ogu Nnachi



by Ogu Nnachi


Andy scoots past Woolworths and The Amhurst

dazzles grey building blocks

roller skates tops

of brown brick walls


Trees are naked, need cleaning.

Andy pauses

grabs his mop of gold

swipes the mud off the leaves

cleanses the branches

scrapes debris into a silver dustpan.


Andy calls on the rain.

When it arrives every tree is showered

every space, plant, and building

bathed and cleansed.

Amhurst Road becomes trays of silver

that playful feet can dodge or splash.


Andy twirls his orange dust cloth

flicks and wipes at the black tints

edging the Pembury Estate windows.


Light stares through bedroom glass

at bare bodies

wrapped in sheets

and duvets.



unstick lazy lids

draw back curtains.

Are smothered by the rush of brightness.


I imagine you Andy, that night inside the Pepys.


It is packed as usual. The air is thickened with voices. Couples and groups sit around tables sporting multi-coloured quiffs, sculptured hair or carefully messy dreadlocks. I see you, expertly squeezing yourself through the mass towards the front of the bar. Your hair is a yellow beacon that attracts the bartender. She grabs your note, bends her ear towards your mouth, you’re both like a couple about to kiss. You shout your order. The music is loud, so loud that it gives you a headache, makes your ears pound.


I think of you sitting by the bar, dipping crisps into the frothy dregs of your Guinness and eating them slowly. You ignore the noise, munch each soggy crisp; let it slide down your throat. You wash your mouth with a final swig, crash your empty pint glass onto the counter, then let out a loud belch.


“Enjoyed that didn’t yer Andy” Bob would laugh at you. See you off with a slap on your shoulder.


That evening, outside the Pepys, it was quiet. You waited, lifted your hot face and let the cold caress your skin. You started your usual walk home, the Guinness and Becks and cheese and onion crisps, spinning cartwheels in your stomach. With your head lowered and your mind a smoky blur, you swayed past the Pembury, then stumbled on the pair of hidden voices.


Your breeze

flicks your golden hair

into moon crescent waves.

Your legs stretch across squares of pavement

lapping up Amhurst road.


fall to the ground

become your shadow

trailing your speeding body.


The two boys, laugh as they wipe the scarlet stains from their fingers, onto the grass. You, lie in the early morning darkness, inert, surrounded by grass tufts, empty beer cans, drink cartons, discarded tissues and clumps of newspapers.


“He thought he could mess with us. Piece of trash in some trash” says the taller boy.

The other, eyes his watch then points to the bus-stop at the bottom of Dalston Lane.

“Come on, if we hurry, we might catch the last 38”.


Your battered body settles into the slightly damp grass. Your hair glows. Windows are firmly shut, curtains closed. You force yourself to stay alert, your mind to concentrate, whilst your body craves rest and sleep.


Thirty minutes later the police car sidles outside the Pembury, sirens flashing. You see the smooth mannequin faces of two coppers hover by the windscreen. You move your body slightly trying not to disturb your fractured jaw. Your mouth makes an odd movement as you try to speak but all that comes out is a moan. Your eyes feel heavy, it is such an effort to keep them open. One man all in black, emerges from the car carrying his baton. You struggle to sharpen your vision and focus the blurred image.


“Are you okay son?”


The man speaks with an underlying bored tone to his voice. You try to lift your head but can’t. A pain, deep and sharp passes through you.

“I’m okay” You mouth the words slowly and carefully, the copper has to lean forward a few inches from your face, to hear you.

“You don’t look okay to me son. Sure you don’t want a lift home?”

“Piss off and leave me alone. I just live ‘round the corner”.


The man pauses, staring at your crumpled body in the mound of rubbish.


“Okay. If that’s how you want it”, he says slowly. The copper turns, looks around him carefully scanning Dalston Lane, the estate and Amhurst Road, he takes one last look at you and then strolls back to his car. Seconds later the greyness is lit up by multi-coloured flashes of light and the squeal of tyres.


Your head pounds as if your brain is knocking on your skull. Out loud you say, “I will get up in a minute, make my way home. I just need a bit more time, a few more minutes, for the pain to go away”.


Darkness. I cannot see. I am blind. I reach out. The air is thick. I’m travelling through melted black cotton wool. Where am I? I remember now. I made it home. I feel something soft and warm then something sticky, my hands are covered in it. I try and pull at the stickiness. It is clinging to my hands. I rub and rub and flakes of something like when glue hardens on your fingers; comes off. I reach towards my chest, press close to feel the stickiness. I reach up to my head. Slowly as I am still in pain. It is in my hair. All stiff, like a dried-up paintbrush. Can someone put the light on? Do I want to see myself? It is better this way. I am a broken tree. Heavy, dried up, snapped and wrinkled. So still. So dark.




Ogu is a mother of three children and a full -time special needs teacher of nearly 30 years. She has written for a local magazine and for The Voice newspaper and had a short story published in Artrage magazine which was also exhibited in tape slide format – ‘Black Women In View’ exhibition – Brixton Art Gallery. Her poetry was published in ‘London Voices’ and a short story accepted for publication by ‘Fred’ magazine. She has performed her poems at the Soho Poly Theatre, Yaa Asantewaa Arts Centre and the Poetry Cafe. She is currently collating her poems for publication.

14 July 2021