Portrait of Childhood

Olowo Qudus Opeyemi

By Olowo Qudus Opeyemi

where i came from/ still smells of wet hyacinths & rotten mangoes/
that is what—the rain brings out of that place/ & i’m beginning to
travel back to memories/ where grief was a mirage/
& grandma’s beige portrait was still clearer/ than the rainbows.
i remember years i drooled/ on mother’s ethereal arms/ like that of god
as she sang old lullabies & lulled me to slumber/ & the moon is my witness.
i used to love the fleeing flock of fireflies/ unclogging their butt into
light when night draws near/ & i grabbed them in my palms/
wondering if they were angels disguised as tiny creatures. i remember
the arithmetic tutor/ with his starched silk shirts & plain trousers.
the way his lips jolly into passion/ as he chalked the blackboard
with frightening figures & equations i couldn’t decipher. i remember how
we little lads used to hail white egrets/hovering & wailing above the clouds/
father said they were birds of fortune. & on the other side; father was
a polygamist with flaws/ & those years faded — before i understood/
why he sat alone every time close to the building stairs.
his thighs were gravid with grief/ & i used to lay my head on them
to feel his strait(s) & sickening scars. that’s how to become a man/
i thought. i miss those friends on the slum street. we used to be
innocent souls/ exploring life in rain/sand/toys/& empty marsh lands.
i miss those faces/ life shared into growth. & some are no longer
breathing with us/ some have become victims of the earth’s menace/
some now smile in black suits & happy faces/ some still run around
every wall — looking for answers/ some found love in another metropolis/
some grew into drugs & narcotics/ some hid in sanctums searching for
redemption/ some went downtown to savour the music of living/ some
went beyond the continent with hefty dreams/ some still wander in
cold feet/ some in taverns gulping vodkas & tequilas to stupor/ some
became predators/ some became preys/ & some are there/ some are here…
& there is me.

Olowo Qudus Opeyemi is a Nigerian poet, singer, rapper, songwriter & performing arts enthusiast. Most of his poetry works have appeared in Brittle Paper, BPPC anthologies, Con-scio Magazine, SprinNG Afro-Eros anthology, Zango X anthology(2021), NSPP anthology(2021) & elsewhere. He was a 3rd runner-up of the Unilorin SU Writers Competition 2021, also a longlist of the Nigerian NewsDirect Poetry Prize 2020 & also made the top entrants of the Nigerian Student Poetry Prize(2021). He was also shortlisted for the Albert Jungers Poetry Prize (2021) & a longlist of the Annual PIN Food Poetry Contest (2020). Qudus is currently a Sociology undergraduate of the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. He’s also a member of the “Unilorin Elites,” a writer’s association in his school campus. He tweets @iamBlackPoet & on Instagram @iamblackpoet.