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.