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The workouts don’t work when you barely have
anything to eat. Two hundred & fifty abdominal
crunches a week. Silly boy, admit it. You like to

suffer. Ribs all around your sides. Caged like that.
This body, bone than body. Cathedral of tight skin.
Close-knit biology. I bend & the whole spine lifts,

rearranges. On some days, I am so small I could
live on a shiver, fit under my brother’s nail. A week
ago, I lost my favourite jacket. The days that came

after were cynical. In the mirrors I appeared, I’d
search, finger on glass, for a third skin. Sweater
of gristle. What I found—foil. My body, a desert

of living bones. Listen closely—a sandstorm
whispering in the joints. This wilt. This bullet-
shaped torso. I fear everything that embraces me

seeks to count up my twelfth rib. Notice how
skinny is less skin than skeleton. Even language
echoes the lithe, mocks it. Here I am, searching

for my body; fingers snaking around my temple,
my nape, my entire boring mold of matter. As if
I would arrive at the chest, pull out a new suit &

drape myself. Bloodless like that. Clean surgery.
Oh, to repair the flesh. To scalpel the skin into
vain grace. I fill myself with want, as if it would,

in turn, fill my rose-slender limbs. But I still ebb
& flow with the garden breeze. My lightweight,
my bone of silk. Wear your earrings around my

wrist & ask what to do with the dangle. Touch
my right leg & imagine a golf club forged to the
hip. This morning, a friend held me by the jaw.

Your cheeks look fuller, he said. & I liked that.
I liked it very much.

Samuel A. Adeyemi is a poetry editor at Afro Literary Magazine. A Best of the Net Nominee and Pushcart Nominee, he is the winner of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2021. His works have appeared—or are forthcoming—in Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, 580 Split, Agbowó, Brittle Paper, Jalada, and elsewhere.
Current Issue
13 May 2024

This variation on the elixir of life pairs the flavour of roasted roc with the medicinal potency of the philosopher’s stone. But buyer beware: this dish isn’t for everyone.
mourn and lament while mixing, then cut down a tree
At the end of every tunnel, there was an epithelium of silence that deluged the larynx.
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