ADEDAYO AGARAU

title: Sikirtatu or A Portrait of My Grandmother's Anguished Body

poem: instead, you are shut out of your own house
what do you say of skies incapable of holding rain
what do you see in your palms besides lines leading into oblivion
	you carry a rotten dream in your mouth		your wounded mouth
is someone’s resting place		what do you say about fishes dying in polluted rivers?
what do you say of sun buried beneath clouds of years & years or of your father’s pictures
hid in the cupboard & between old clothes 	what do you say of dreams where silt 
disperses through your gathered palms 	of prayers tending to unhealing wounds
	of sunrises bending to paint hues into a kind of resurrection
you pretend that you are dreaming of cities where there are flower gardens & bees
& children laughing like rivers turning tides over rocks	& that your body is 
not the next rhythm after the prelude to fire		& that your closed mouth is 
not a closed-door		that your still hand is not the bird’s clipped wings	
	instead, you are screaming wolf inside a lamb body	you are building a tower 
of prayers & knocking on God’s window	& chewing hope with your dismembered teeth
	you are mourning your body from your bamboo chair	cursing the flies gathering
a family on your nose	tightening & loosening a fist in your mind 		wishing life into your hands

title: a poem in which i mistook everything

poem: mistook my grandmother’s language for a handful of ash,
mistook her songs for an apology, mistook her frail hands
for lava, the origin of butterflies ‒yellowish & greyish, blue
stars blinking towards its grave‒ mistook her swollen feet
for the inside of a jellyfish‒ the first time we found one at 
the beach, she mistook it for algae‒ mistook memories of 
her for a childhood of dreams where i mistook kites for wings
mistook sea for an assembly of rain, mistook sky birds for whales,
mistook my father’s heavy sighs for the entrance of miracle, took
her thickening silence instead of the call for help, mistook prayers
for my mother’s call for attention, said yes, instead of amen,
mistook my brother’s dream in which we wore black to sleep
for a poem ending in grief, mistook mine for tributes, mistook the
dusty photos of my grandmother & her lovers drinking beer for 
a world where nestlings sing the cardiomyopathy out of a limp body,
where god does not command silence into isreal, where canaan is my
grandmother’s body & i stand beside it watching a famine of pain stir
its wind across the city of an old god.

Adedayo Agarau’s chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020. He is a human nutritionist, documentary photographer, and author of two chapbooks, For Boys Who Went & The Arrival of Rain. Adedayo was shortlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Prize in 2018, Runner up of the Sehvage Poetry Prize, 2019. Adedayo is an Editor at IceFloe, Assistant Editor at Animal Heart Press, a Contributing Editor for Poetry at Barren Magazine, and a Poetry reader at Feral. His works have appeared or are forthcoming on Agbowo, Glass Poetry, Mineral Lit, Ice Floe, Ghost City, Temz, Linden Avenue, Headway Lit, The Shore Poetry, Giallo, and elsewhere. Adedayo was said to have curated and edited the biggest poetry anthology by Nigerian poets, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry. You can find him on Twitter @adedayo_agarau or agarauadedayo.com

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