Taiye Ojo

I Am Creating Foreign Lands to Leave My Own

I’m nearing thirty. She is long dead.
I sing although I have no tongue.

I sing with putty over my eyes. A cold
excited fire warms the rolling plains.

My mother and the morning light calling me.
How everything about me is asking –

Memory as in wealth, as in forgetfulness,
when it’s wanted, when it’s needed.

Regret is a strong word. I am where it is.
A confession without any catechist present.

I need someone to hold me down. I am where
I am supposed to be. I say rain, I mean mole.

I mean cancer. I mean brochure. Not a pixel,
more of a postcard from my grandmother,

lonely walk of a woman gone to war, and I climb
into a gray forest, a mobius strip of endless U-turns.

Historical odds. My mother with eyes like abscess.
As in how she keeps changing, how we’ve always

been like this. Refugees, made of country lanes,
trees, flowers and salt. I mean prisoners. I mean

any child, any parents unhappy. A group of skin
disease is called “charity”. There is a yellow finch

at the door. As in shadows are crawling all over me.
My monument to shame, nothing but my bones

are left. I’ve heard, many years ago, of our coastal
wanderings, the rolling waves of our unhurried pace.

How this body is a sponge, a heap and a life saver.
This is how I find clarity, how I know I only want

to live: a newborn calf, cold and wet.