(after Logan February)

By Boluwatife Afolabi

Do you know me?

I once tried to learn all your names by heart
but they did not stay              I thought you said
if you knocked and I opened           that you’d stay

Do you know me?

I’m sorry    I thought you meant    why my body
is always running into        questions or forgetfulness

What questions?

Like what you meant when you said                    three is the same as one
is the birdsong also a form of worship?
what did you name the heaviness in my heart?     why did you keep it there?
Adonai, there are songs inside my head that won’t grow or die and
on days when I pray for you to take them away, I don’t know
if you are the quiet or the storm

What do you believe?

I believe that I am such an ephemeral thing             like
the wind or the transience of the harmattan breath
fading into glass
I am a dying whisper          infiltrating the roots of memory
[I swear I’m tired of writing about memory now]
my mother thinks that        I am the sea and the world
is a ship      but when Kabosabroke my skin he found nothing

What do you believe?

I am saying        that I have been suffering apathy[and inertia]
and when the doctor               asked for my symptoms I didn’t
know whether to describe it as a prison or poison

What do you want?

I don’t want the questions running into       my bones like water
I don’t want                           the drowning
or                                          the gasping
or                                          the heaviness
or                                          the songs
or                                          the prison
or                                          the poison
I am saying that        I want to be able to know       if it is you
I’m hearing in the quiet or the storm.



Boluwatife Afolabi is the author of ‘Cartographer of Memory’. He is also a poetry editor at Agbowo. In 2018, he was shortlisted for the Babishai-Niwe African Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Adda, Arts and Africa, African Writer etc.

Twitter, Instagram: @oluafolabi