By Olaitan Junaid
after Leila Chatti
with a line from Aria Aber
At the morgue, I tell the cause of each victim's death by the missing body parts; their faults, by the size of tongue-cuts. At the morgue, I tell injustice by how imperfect the shape of bullet holes, the deepest wounds cutting through to protest sites; far, beyond & wide. By dotting a bloodied scalpel through rubbled folds of flesh, I make a list of bodies after bodies unclaimed/ & burn to ash. Where the ash settles, a sewage of blood runs into it. Where a country once towered & fell, blood becomes ash becoming offering. Offering is the lifeless body dangling at the edge of the pathologist work-bed. The mouth frothing as if struggling to crash into language, too, is offering. If I take this offering & forgive my country, who will forgive me? At the morgue, by which I mean the other side of a country, my father calls, weeping. Says he fears that the country he gave me will someday kill me. My father who never cries keeps mourning & mourning my death before arrival. After the call, I press my chest against the earth to know where the violence began. In the beginning, there was a country. In the country, a gathering. At the gathering, a rupturing. Since the rupturing, my brother wouldn't come back home. Neither will the young, company worker down the hood. This unmarked body refusing silence, I fear, would pass easily for the vicar's son. Hey, look! My hand steadies a coffin beautifully; by which I mean I'm here for my brother; by which I mean he's stayed here long enough to outlive another's essence. For the second time, my father calls to ask if it's OK to wake up thirsty after a long night spent by a riverside. In response, I say some dreams barely have consequences/ & this is one of them. Again, he asks; same words, same breath, same tone— its ache potent as the first. & Because I have no tongue for language, I play dead, bite hard into the soft of my fingertip to draw blood. The blood, I offer to every childhood spent learning to survive the silence settling the unsettling after a gunshot. The blood, I offer to long nights spent reading poems about ghosts & ghouls/ to scare us wake. & why is tomorrow's pathway edgy as a knife? If I dream of my country too often, won't I lose my head? If I run back to childhood's tomb, will that too harm me much? In a short while, my father calls to announce a stranger's arrival. In three days time, there'll be mourning after mourning after mourning in my father's compound. Briefly, the janazah will hold. And after, a burial without a body. In semibreve, the widower's loss becomes music becoming memory.
Olaitan Junaid is a Nigerian poet and content creator studying English Language. More than taking, he enjoys having conversations about the smell of coffee. His works are in/coming on Glass Poetry, Palette Poetry, The Rising Phoenix Review, & elsewhere. You can tweet him @olaitan_junaid.