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Adesiyan Oluwapelumi

Adesiyan Oluwapelumi, TPC XI, is a poet/essayist from Nigeria. He was the winner of the Cheshire White Ribbon Day Creative Contest (2022) and the 1st runner-up in the Fidelis Okoro Prize for Poetry (2023). His works are published in Poet Lore, Tab Journal, Poetry Wales, IHRAF, Brittle Paper and elsewhere. A 2023 Adroit Journal Summer Mentee and a 2023 Fellow of The SprinNG Writers Fellowship, he reads poetry for the Kitchen Table Quarterly and is the Assistant Editor of Lean and Loafe Poetry Journal. He is the author of Ethos (forthcoming from Ukiyoto Publishing).

X / Twitter: @ademindpoems

Instagram: @ademind17


Father, your words elude me like a shadow

and like a pill of light, I am drowning in the mouth

of darkness again. I do not know how to worship

the body, call it a god with a tongue lapping

for soft touches. Kiss me in the frontal

and a boy falls again into an abyss. If you must know,

I carry the night the way a hawker carries

a pile of oranges, unpeeled and tenderly.

In the city of my childhood,

I keep burying the corpses of memories

that keep reawakening.

Back in Ilé-Ifẹ̀, grandmothers make regalias

of their son's dead bodies, wearing grief like aso ebi.

There is a thin thread linking the dead

to the living and like a frayed fabric, I spill recklessly

into every dream holding a memory of you.

Through the waters, I wade ocean-thirsty, bone-dry.

Yemọja calls me over for a bath and I scurry to her

with feet that know not

how not to sink.

In my eyes are fading portraits of memories

we thought we could hold onto forever.

Say what is lost never sees the light

of what is found again. In my dreams, I still come

to you a mouth hungry for the dialect of a father's love.

What language has this fatherland taught me

if not the syntax of grief?

Remembrance is a thick forest

and my body is a testament of its blooming thorns.

At nights, I still stare at the stars constellated

like the beads of Olókun necklaces—

perhaps in a rosary of time,

the bones of the dead finally quiver.

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