(For Amarachi; Chijioke’s sister)


That flew on a warm Nigerian evening, north

across the frigid Atlantic and nested in Lithuania

in your warm bubbly heart and made it cold like

old memories buried inside the earth, awaiting resurrection.

The story says the earth offered her arms in embrace

and the boy accepted it, a final ritual.

Some people say the embrace is a metaphor

for transfiguration or transmutation.

But what is the metaphor for this heaviness in the heart

that will not disappear? What is its name? What is its antidote?

A bird once fell into my palms, a wounded little thing, and I tended it back to life

and it sang through the night – a lullaby full of colours and disappeared by morning.

You will ask about the bird, and why the love we pour into things

that won’t stay come back to us, pigmented with grief.

Sometimes in my dreams, the bird visits and offers to sing a requiem;

I never refuse, I never ask why it left, I never ask for its return

Boluwatife Afolabi is the author of ‘The Cartographer of Memory’ an electronic poetry chapbook published by the Sankofa Initiative. His works have appeared in Saraba Magazine, Arts and Africa, Expound magazine, African Writers etc. He is also the poetry editor of Agbowo. He lives and writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. Find him on Twitter @oluafolabi