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is to be hungry like a boat; stomach stretching out
unto a wholesome waterflesh. is to gorge the ocean’s lilac

with the moon littered on its flesh. the throat erected
as an anthill. to smudge the body as a colony of disclosures

woven with footprints of all the ghosts sieved into the earth.
tell me how to eat a ghost till the mouth is full of peaches.

to disappear into a song wide enough to drown is to hold a light
to the chest and repeat a happy song till it becomes a blade

on the tongue. my chest is a sky-rack of immaculateness,
a cheesecloth adjusted to keep birds from nesting.

a child recognizes his parents by the hands that feed him,
I swear the first parent I ever knew was the absence of one.

my father was rafted over waters. my tears chart his body,
a sloppy dash, in the verbatim of the heart’s favourite expelling.

the best human conversation is the silence
that warms the heart. the latitude is measured out of grief.

the soft accentuation, music’s favourite threshold.

it is tough to remember my father because his face is a road
swallowed up by fog. I cast my emptiness with the song

cataloguing enough ash in my voice. my soul is the oasis
inside his eyes, an origami placed before a calcified wind.



Wale Ayinla is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. His works recently appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Cultural Weekly, South Dakota Review, Rhino Poetry, UpTheStaircase Quarterly, The LitQuarterly, Cimarron Review, Slipstream, Ruminate Magazine, McNeese Review, Waccamaw, Poet Lore, Palette Poetry, and elsewhere.
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19 Feb 2024

That was Father—a storm in a drought, a comet in the night. Acting first, thinking later, carried on not by foresight, but on luck’s slippery feet. And so we were not as surprised as we should have been when, one warm night in our tenth year on the mountain, Father showed us the flying machine.
The first time I saw stone and Bone in ocean
This is it. This is the decision that keeps you up at night.
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