Ojo Taiye: Three Poems

CONTENT WARNING: DEATH, SELF-INJURIOUS BEHAVIOUR

[Image description: photograph of three pink waterlilies floating on a river. They are surrounded by lilypads, bright and pale against the dark of the water.] Dagny Mol / Creative Commons

[Image description: photograph of three pink waterlilies floating on a river. They are surrounded by lilypads, bright and pale against the dark of the water.]

Dagny Mol / Creative Commons

BEAUTIFUL SCARS

the taste of metal fills my mouth

i lift my phone and the tremors in my fingers multiply
have you ever thought of being devoured alive?
i wish i could give you my insomnia for a few months
or even a few years
and take your sleep instead

i want to show you what’s like to be up at midnight
without newborns to rock
wondering what the hell
you are doing here on earth
or why you should even stay

let’s talk about boys swallowing goldfish
and how it makes me feel like i’m drowning
trapped still in the tank
i can’t breathe
the water has gone from murky to muddy
dark green with a stench like sulfur

fresh grief
the black grime of my brain
has descended
and now seeps through all the pores of my body
squeezing the light out
and i'm sloshing around in the tank
in the darkness

my sister would always say
that the physical pain of a cut
releases the mental one
so
with the tip of a paperclip
i scrape the inside of my forearm
until blood blooms like a small path to light

in the shower
i let the hot water rinse out the blood
i have a nice stack of scars
and i wonder
whether they will still be there when i am old

i can hear the doctor say
talk back to the distorted thought
to the sadness
a waxing moon peers into my window
and i wonder
whether i shall carry this forever
 

MEMORIES SIT ON MY LEGS

this old manor
holds an absence

fresh smell of death
again

at the mouth of a cave
the sun behind me is a fire

birds of flame

i cannot tell anymore why i dream
of bonfires
and ghosts of men
i can only hear the river saying

run and never stop

does
exile
begin at birth?
still everything singular has a name
a line drawn in sand
forever folding in on itself

what is a map but a prison?

consider how the voices ring in mute dreams
without the sting of a slap

consider how a song says

write me

motherhood creeps out of my tight skin
and the world becomes too small
 

two tongues emerge from my forehead

I
i sit on the balcony of our house  
and watch the world move through a garage
filled with potted and re-potted flowers.
funeral lilies teach only fragrance;
everything i’ve ever lost is right here
in this loud little room,
in this tiny little poem,
in which my sister
is floating away on a river’s open palms. 
home is an ark drifting through one’s solitude,
the core of the body’s silence.

II
i want to go home to your body, 
to your scars,
to the places where you could breathe.
how often i think of pink skies
and the smell of burning menarche.
my father’s hair melts into dust
and i name each landmark
for the words that were robbed from us.
i promise i will never leave you
untranslated.
i will give you every word
and reside in the ache of sleep and stone.


Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with society.