poem in which my mother never died

Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí

By Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí

—my imagination can’t weave it up,
language lays cold in my hand, a petalled
pistol. nine years, seven months & twenty-four
days of being motherless makes you unable
to dream a world where you are somebody’s
favourite song, their light, the flower buried
in the chest of golden morn. I am twenty now,
Moimi, kissed a couple of mouths, partaken
of a number of sacraments, what boy would
I be if Death never visited, if there was a cure
for AIDS & we got it & you rose from the bed,
not to walk into the small Jericho carved
into the earth, but to dance, & to never stop
dancing. today I paint grief & sorrow & sweet
penises to buy beer & data to watch porn. how
I miss you, mother—I mourn you every day:
dawn has just broken, the pianist is still
sleeping, drunk from yesterday’s elegy, I am
smoking weed, playing The Weeknd, libating
memory. the best feeling I know is sorrow—
my joy dances with my grief & longing, my
fears samba with my gazelles. what does it matter
imagining an alternate today, where the finches
never cracked the mirror to condolence me a pale
elegy, mother, just visit my dream one of these days & say
a few words to me. I no longer even know
what your voice sounded like, your words
lost to me. beg the crows to bear you.

Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí is a writer and editor from Nigeria. His works have recently appeared/ are forthcoming in AGNI, Joyland, No Tokens, Agbowó, Southern Humanities Review, Olongo Africa, the Minnesota Review, the McNeese Review, West Trade Review, among other places. He is a staff writer at Open Country Mag.