my mother sits on our threadbare mat languaging her thoughts
into prayers. the lantern brightens everything in the room except her grief.
she says to God; Ọ̀lùwà jọ̀wọ́ fún mí ní èyí tí kònìkúmọ,
that is to say, a woman is tired of breaking into storms every time
her child comes & goes. how do you name a thing that dies quicker than
our economy? they do not stay for long. poor kids; they come & go like Nigeria.
i start this poem with the 99 beautiful names of my mother’s mother;
her gracious wickedness. lilith. Maleficent, our mistress of evil
they say Grandma is a murderer & since blood never trickles down the
thin lips of a witch. you may call her Raven — the black bird of prey;
i watch my Grandma’s bones cackle every night like the burning bush,
but her Moses drowned in the red sea, now she’s stuck here with earthlings.
my mother walks around the compound arranging herself into everything
she touches; the new cot, my old shawls, feeding bottles, & the walls of our house.
her belly swells so big i feared it would burst open with a child.
& every time my Grandma says to her something that resembles a prayer;
the earth freezes & my mother screeches curses as a rebuttal.
I ask Grandma; how do you live with people who say you kill babies for a living?
i am at the labour room with mother waiting for her to vomit another child,
the doctors here are rude; they slap her buttocks every now & then. echoes
of mother’s screams pierce heaven & God heaves a sigh of relief.
when the baby came out, it did not cry. it did not move, & its chest
was stiff like a log of wood. mother broke into a tornado cycloning
everything & everyone as we journey home with a dead child.
at home, we did not meet Grandma. we did not see a soul. our house stood aloof
& grief painted it home. i start to count how many we had lost, but my voice
gave way into a scream. so i shouted my Grandmother’s names
& earth returned to me her silence. my grandmother refuses to be an echo —
her lifeless body dangling from under the orange tree. so i quickly start to
offer supplication to the ghost of my Grandma as a cautery for drowning kids.
is a contemporary Nigerian creative, microbiologist, and medical student. His pieces are experimental and they dissect societal themes. His works have been published or are forthcoming on The Kalahari Review, Lolwe, Voice Lux Journal, Melbourne Culture Corner, The Shallow Tales Review, Mixed Mag, Granta, Afro Lit Mag, The B’K, Shambles, Superstition Review, Parousia Mag, Neuro Logical, Literandra, EBOquills, Ngiga Review, Artmosterrific, Pawners Papers, The Scribe Post, & elsewhere. Ololade reads poetry for AWS, Head of a unit for SPIC Family, a contributing editor at TVO Tribe, and a creative podcaster for The GhostPen Project. When he is not writing, Ololade is either in the laboratory culturing microbes or drowning in Indian/Pakistani playback songs. He creates violence on Facebook @Ololade Edun or on twitter @OloladeWrites.