Overcomer Ibiteye


“when you pass through the waters, I will be with you..” – Isaiah 43:2

and when you start sinking, I will sink with you.

because god is an elegy
that stays through thick
and thin and slippery

& we are drowning parables:
deterrent to the next generation.

Someone overhead takes a snapshot of us
and I can assume that the first picture is that of a stream

hundreds of us in white

& this is prophecy fulfilled.
For it is written that out of our bellies shall flow rivers
of living things:

sea crunches
fish teeth

and I can assume that the second picture is that
of a placard bearing keferi
in salty red.

When you ask us where the water comes from
we choke
& our throat cells fold into extinction
for we do not know how to tell you that our world was built

for this kind
of baptism.

How do we tell you the ancient chronicles
of a space designed

to gulp down flesh
and curve bodies into immortality?

Another flash
and I know this is the killer picture
that’ll make tomorrow’s headlines

the shot zoomed to reveal
tiny wooden crosses round our neck
crosses of an un-nailed Christ
fleeing the grave.

Say, we are a packet of black boys refusing to burn in religion
we are pairs of feet tiptoeing around faith
scared that the walls of Jericho will fall on us.
Or say, we are a bundle of hearts held by lullabies of unbelief;
a colony of pagan tongues longing for revival.

In midair, we flap our hands helplessly & beckon on the faith
to see if it would deliver us

and allow us to scoop salvation from its collarbones
but every trial shivers us back into the water.

This faith turns its back on last-minute followers.
This faith is a conniving racist.

All we want is a yellow ray shafting down these dark clouds
telling us it’s okay

to not believe

All we want is a trinity of truths
kissed from the lips of doubting Thomas.

But no.
All we get
is water
& an inheritance of bloated remains:

deterrent to the next generation.

(*Keferi means Infidel in the Yòrúba language, Nigeria.)