By Muiz Opeyemi Ajayi
Cathedrals drown the light at the denouement
of this song. Say: even this orchestra defies
illumination. At the edge of the dim light
echoing from our past, I rock gently in the worn
brown hammock on the bank of mosáfẹ́jọ́ river.
Ololade & Ayinke hold their breaths under
water. Boys from the next town play hide &
swim in the earth-chilled water. Everything else
might as well burn for all we care. Often
joy lives on the cusp of memory cascaded
with glee. I bury myself in the bright afternoon
water, watch the coolness permeate my bones
the way mercy unwounds ache; the way music herniates
our souls. Darling, this is how we learn to swim through sun
-burned music, breast stroking between the fierce heat
of the heavens & the calmness of the cool river.
In another note of this song, the swamp holds
unto a boy’s feet till he surrenders his breath
in exchange for hydration. A decade later & I am
back on the shores of the song. Carbon emissions fog
the air from the diesel power-generator humming within
mansions standing where the river used to sit. Somehow
the sun looks browner on this verse of the song. I hum a tune
from my childhood about burning oceans & crushed songs.
Cathedrals swallow the light at the denouement of this song &
I think how the river’s name lyricizes its plea:
mosáfẹ́jọ́ mosáfẹ́jọ́ mosáfẹ́jọ́
I flee from trouble I flee from trouble I flee from trouble
Muiz Opeyemi Ajayi (Frontier XVIII) studies Law at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He’s an editor at The Nigeria Review, featuring/forthcoming on Poetry Wales, Nigerian News Direct, 20.35, Trampset, Rough Cut Press and elsewhere. He’s a 2021 ARTmosterrific Writer-in-Residence, PROFWIC Poetry Contest and BKPW Poetry Contest second runner-up.