By Babatimehin Aṣíwájú
for Prof. Ayo Olukotun, my uncle.
sand to sand;
ashes to ashes;
& dust to dust;
once again, mother earth eats her child.
cruel mother! swallowing the carcass
of her children whole. your lifeless body is being lowered
into the ground. & the organist plays a solemn
hymn on his instrument. standing at your graveside,
all the ones you ever loved. tears...& tears…& I
become unsure of which it is: should a man not die?
or should a man not love?
how I have weaned myself from whimpering
when eating from the fruit of the grief that ripens
at the stool of your grave. I promised myself
not to do this. not to empty my grief
into the mouth of another poem. but this is how I mourn
my dead: I carve a poem in their likeness.
& chew it until it becomes incense, floating
into the afterlife like the spirit of a solemn song.
here, standing at your graveside, I fight back
the surging Nile behind my lids from spilling over.
into the next line of the story. & again…& again...I stand
unsure of which it is:
should a man not cry?
or should a man not be seen crying?
in the background, the organist plays a solemn song;
"strong man, don't cry
strong man, don't cry
you are your father's son…"
Babatimehin Aṣíwájú is just another (lost) boy/who seeks refuge in poetry.
He has works published/forthcoming in Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, African Writer Magazine, and Synchronized Chaos.