dear C.

remember the rustling of the tree branches under which we sat 

as I told you of the brief thing that my life would be

because breathing is hard, the birds that fell like purple prayers

but didn’t because they kicked their wings & leapt back into the sky.

I don’t know what’s true in this story & what’s not, memory

wears too many faces, each shadowed by time. I don’t know

to remember how I couldn’t see all the dandelions you held

between your teeth, how to forget the warmth of your body close to mine

when you pressed your head to my chest to hear the bird sing. tell me,

what way leads backwards to the time when this wound was still

in the womb & we could have undreamed it? Nkem, how I want

to break the alabaster box for you & have you fill this house

with the electricity of your mouth. but what is the use of wings

in the kingdom of water? of what use, the moments we let slide

like silk between the fingers, like morning emptying itself through

the sieve of time? why am I a love story that never happens?


Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí is a writer and editor from Nigeria. His works have appeared/ are forthcoming in Yemassee, Journal Nine, the Indianapolis Review, Down River Road, the Lit Quaterly, the Dark Magazine, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III, Agbowó, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, Acumen Poetry Magazine, Glass, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry, Litro Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology, and the author of the tiny book of poems, my mother died & I became _______ (Ghost City Press). A CAC Fellow, he is a reader at The Masters Review and Palette Poetry, and an assistant editor at Counterclock Journal.