stormy eid. rain washes the dua off our tongues. old central mosque brimming with bodies the brown of archipelago barks. i witness a crippled boy bum-walk a blind man to the front row of the saf'. & my guilt puckers beneath my skin. cracks in the rusted zinc-roof which used to pour sunlight into the masjid on very hot days now channels driblets of the morning shower over the jamma. droplets after droplets on the rubber mats, megaphone by the windowpane, smooth scalp either bald or shaved hairless. each hydro-bead at first without stimulus. then like the nazi- jew prisoners with waterbags tied overhead, each drop becomes heavier & heavier, till you're convinced there's an entire beach suspended atop, pounding wave after wave against your skull. back home, the flood, good old friend that it is, reaches in, submerging the bedfoot & sofa. & my cousin, sweet ol' girl she is, holds her infant over the deluge, & baths him in cold rain water. _____________________ Mile 12 curry. spice. potatoes. & ata ijosi fill wheel -barrows beneath the sweat-licking sun. haggling at its height softened by dialectic symphony. a yarinya too young to mother breastfeeds an infant in a shed. yaro in blue truck heaves bags of beans twice his size. i am 3 weeks returned from school. varsity lecturers on another protracted strike. rust & ibadan red dust still glued to my supra boots. thin light -ning lines the sky. & disappears again. i do not think of how much i miss Acrylics. &/or our long promenades in the dark. i do not see the words 40 worshippers shot dead in owo cat -holic church step out an old fm radio chattering in a lotto kiosk. instead i stay my gaze on some bird (whose english name i’ll bing-search after this poem) hovering. round-crowing over an agama with white belly skywards near a meat stall in the market square. i think about how often we’re scavengers circumspecting over distractions. something to shift our eyes off the impending storm. distant song. a poem. a prey. some dissonant chord.
Muiz Ọpẹ́yẹmí Àjàyí (Frontier XVIII) studies Law at the University of Ibadan. He’s an editor at The Nigeria Review, Poetry reader for Adroit Journal and a 2022-2023 Poetry Translation Centre’s UNDERTOW Poet-in-Residence. Winner of the Lagos-London Poetry Competition 2022, PROFWIC Poetry Prize second runner-up, Briefly Write Poetry Prize longlisted, he’s featuring/forthcoming in 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Frontier Poetry, Poetry Wales, Aké Review, SAND journal, Nigerian NewsDirect, Trampset & elsewhere.