what i remember of my father – a poem by Olaewe David Opeyemi

what i remember of my father

forgive me if all my mind captures is faint
— a boy dissolving into a dark corner, fading
like a red garment bleached by the rigours of age
& splattered like a monochrome photo mishmashed by morning dew.

my father left when my memory was nascent,
a boy who could spell his name but not privy
to its meaning. so, i dig into the tomb of yesterday
on a bat-flight on the wings of time to scavenge
the bones of memory, so as to lay bouquets
of roses on my patriarch’s tomb.

father, i see you winking inside my eyes
when i shut its door. sigmund freud’s book says
that it’s my mind playing chess. mother says
a ghost that has seeds lurks around on a nearby sentry.
you planted my tiny feet early in the loam
of knowledge, on the expressway to the future.
you said “a boy must learn the ritual of solitude
to stand on ground of independence.”

one day, you drew a circle in my workbook,
spanking amnesia out of me, until i could say
it’s 4:32pm, that was the day you painted
on the canvas of my heart that “life is measured
in seconds, no one get as much as they want, only what they need”.

1996 summer, i rose to pee & you were watching
nigeria–brazil match, that night, older men,
smiling like the noon sun held my hands
as we danced on your brown cushion chair. (the only language
widely understood like football is love dressed in a plate of compassion).

when mother packed to our new home, we
unpacked stereo discs of your favourites,
though the wheel of time has moved music on,
i heard your voice wrapped in obey’s music: “to please
all human is a dream taken too far, only do your best, let the rest rest”.

this poem is an elixir; a lullaby that puts my brother
& sister to sleep every night. here is how
i know mother was right: i still see your face in my mirror every morning.

Olaewe David Opeyemi is a Nigerian medical doctor and writer. He explores the borders of mutual human experiences through his writing. He has works in Dreich, Lemonspouting, Lucent Dreaming, Selcouth Station, The Quills and elsewhere. He writes from Birnin Kebbi, Nigeria. He’s active on twitter: @DROPEY01.

Banner Art: Intention, a Visual Poem by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2021. Twitter: @frede_kenter

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