After mornings when seeing the red eye shadow of a pigeon was enough for joy to begin fluttering.I
I know I ought to tell you I miss my father,
But it is easier to say I hardly knew him.
& the truth is not the same as ease.
I long for my mother before she is my mother.
I imagine she was more tender then.
But it is true that I do not know her.
Yet, I miss her. I can tell you the first time I touched
My father’s shoulder I expected it to hurt.
I mean to say I expected to be wrong.
I expected my hands to fall through him.
I tell myself now that I wanted him to feel
Me say, again, have a safe trip.
But I expected to be wrong.
I could not expect to prevent an accident with a touch.
I miss mornings with the static of radio Nigeria
Sifting through my mother’s prayers.
The crackle of uplifting the people & uniting the nation
As I waited for the sun to return my gaze so I could eat breakfast.
I miss disobeying all the cartoon instructions,
& pushing the big red button in her Mercedes
With the flashing consequence of colour.
I miss my mother watching me walk to class.
Watching how long before I forgot her instruction to be quiet & a good boy,
Before I became myself, again.
I miss Ego Ogbaro singing for my mother.
The only times my father was baby baby baby & far away.
I miss drinking so much zobo—my tongue a blood purple testament
Of my Mother’s sweet creation.
I miss the gap between wanting & having being my mother’s outstretched hand.
I miss the orange tree & apple tree & coconut tree lining our old home.
I miss coming home to floorfulls of apples from
Our neighbours’ failed attempts to pluck from a fenced Eden.
I miss my failure to peel oranges in the exquisite spirals that Hausa fruit men did.
I miss my bucketfulls of attempts.
I miss thinking my father was a coconut—
A tenderness that demanded effort.
A hardness that broke against a wall &
Poured a sweet fountain.
I miss thinking a wall was a mine for tenderness.
I miss wanting to be a wall & running my fingers over their ears, saying, teach me.
Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni is a genre-bending writer whose poetry was shortlisted for the 2019 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize. He is a reader at The Masters Review and is currently making attempts at beauty while applying for a citizenship in Lucille. Tweets: @ObafemiThanni
Banner: Pool. Digital Art by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2021 Tweets: @frede_kenter