For my sake, Maami lowers her voice
to the ears of a singular absence.
The air reverberates with prophecy
burdening the year with our leaving.
I watch the silver bird lift off
in the turbulence of her eye lids
as her hands splay in the air
reaching for the fleshed word.
Prophecy: You will be asked, where you are from.
The question presumes not here.
You will be asked to return.
The question presumes you have not been tainted by arrival.
Like a child, the land takes what it is given.
Anthems and allegiances have blood in common.
Is it honour to deny what your country has done?
To look away from the blood boarders?
I am told my country’s name and I dream
of empires seeking to conquer the horizon.
By morning, the soldiers are dead from marching.
The scorching silence breaking
to fieldflies sipping their milkskins.
Have you seen what beauty can do?
How honey glows to the fly like a hundred molten suns—the light of everything unlike death?
How a garden feeds on the rot of secrets—of bodies razed to limbs?
I make a country of my mother’s dyed wrappers
And like you, I am a citizen of invention.
On my muscled heirloom
Home ties its taste to leavings.
And when a stutter wars through our words
Home is razed beyond a syllable. Limping.
Pursue tying to cling tying to displace
to exile to hard to evict.
At your borders, you offer benevolence for absolution
asking if I have been here before
and I take my smoked passport from you, smiling
the here written in ash rising in welcome.
Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni is a poet whose works of poetry and fiction have received Pushcart Prize nominations. He spends his time between the cities of Ibadan and Lucille, making attempts at beauty. Read more poetry in SAND 24.