On the almanac of grief,
I know an October of smog
that rented the heart of the rainforest,
spreading ashes of men on the mangroves.
I am thinking now holy father
of how you welcome my grandfather’s
ghost at your holy gate.
Does he still have his eyes
to see the narrow path that
leads to the hearth of paradise?
Does he recount the story about
how he escaped the furnace of the wild west
that turned his neighbor into a pillar of ash?
How does one
begin a country’s story with an ash
when its fire is still burning?
I have no appetite for dreams that
send my grandfather’s ghost back
begging me to fight for the soul
of this country. I am out of water
to wet this colonial dream.
Salawu Ọlájídé’s poems have appeared in Salt Hill, Saraba, Agbowo, Miracle Monocle, Glass, Transition, Rattle, New Orleans Review and so on. He is the author of Preface for Leaving Homeland published under African Poetry Book Fund Series and edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani.