Ifenaike Michael Ayomipo
these men came in a lounge suit.
their skin colour,
their curly hair,
their fragrance too,
made us retrace partiality back to God,
like he filtered some men’s bodies and left some unfiltered.
my grandfather said, maybe God used us as spectacles to see what man’s creation would look like;
hogwash, or a sparkling wonder –
first-time products always droop in quality.
they paperclip our land with metaphors after emptiness,
a land, kneeling, begging, for just a speck of miracle,
they had no identity, they had nothing, they said.
do idols and tribes emerge from a void land?
they told our leaders they came to paint us into spectrums,
treaties shawled with deceits.
which artiste carries shotguns?
soon, we began to see the template of colonialism in their presence.
they wedged sceptres for themselves in another man’s land.
men who stood like bulwarks were grated to dust by gunshots.
our gods wrenched as they made ashes from their sanctuaries. we were forced to caress a new god.
isn’t it a wonder they speckled our land with ruins
and later taught us a dialect of peace with a scriptural book?
my brothers and sisters were taken abroad in shackles.
they conflagrated the marigold betwixt my sisters’ thighs.
those who died found their graves in the belly of fishes. grief was the payload on the ship.
sisters and brothers lived in a land where their blood & bones raised industries.
they had babies who later knew six letter words can sew a tightrope — racism.
they are now breathing cadavers in a rose bush,
and cartographers can’t even show them their homes
cause riots of origins already took place.
you see a man,
you ask him his name, and he answers.
his name carries a tote of phobia.
he doesn’t belong here. his father lives in the borders of the country, you say.
you call your countrymen, they taught him death can also borrow men’s skin.
next day, his country’s media publicise scattered prints.
one says, our neighbouring country takes one of us.
puncture left by blood can only be patched by blood.
a man leaves his home to walk into the oesophagus of a war he didn’t start,
it’s his duty anyway.
his mother kneels and enters into a prayer of providence every day.
her kneecaps are being tattooed from this ritual.
how does God kill to make a bouquet of triumph out of another body?
how does he kill to make a riverbed from others’ face?
this is how you shrill death into humanity’s ear :
you set love on fire,
watch it become ashes and voyage.
soldiers wedge a war from bruises.
a train of grief stops for mothers to enter.
a train of grief stops for fathers to enter.
a train of grief stops for sons and daughters to enter.
a train of grief stops for wives to enter.
you don’t know this,
you start a war,
then you run. you run. you run
till you disappear.
till we know borders are calligraphies showing us bonds and not differences,
we will always see our brothers as boulders ready to fall on us.
Ifenaike Michael Ayomipo is a young writer who writes from Lagos, Nigeria. He believes the pen is a changing tool, hence it should be used positively. He’s reading, or doing some reflections on life when he’s not writing. His utmost desire is to see his works transmute into a mirror for people to assess themselves.