is like breathing for you,
you do it without practice.
i think god shaped you an arrow no target in sight
so you knife through places begging changing mouths to learn your name
and make room in their houses—
decompose their lives and gift you in part
your way into mine was barging
like this you
broke down, through the eye of a battering ram into a colony expanding
forced my life to carry yours ‘parasite’ is breathing as another suffocates
my body is adjusted to halves it will not expand onto my mattress spread wide like wasteland there is no meal so small that it cannot be smaller somehow I understand that being can be too much if being is inhabiting these silences lengthened in your aftermath
this mind so trained to carry nothing but my self was lifting you whole out of chaos’ teeth and
embedding you into prospering futures; completing your story with climbing applause
only, in your way, to eject yourself body first and ball-like
far from salvation
the only thing I am able to dream up these after days
with amen i suffocate
i learn to befriend this addiction widen this dent into a cup
that must not pass over me
and if longing is loving may I be drawn like a sentence trying to find feet like a sentence is tallying the days you are hedged in by the making of your own hand
i will not wash my mouth, and tempt my tongue to forget this taste
lately i find you cradled
between the black and white of my textbook
this Law that
for a thing ceasing, the thing itself ceases
“God is a place you will wait
for the rest of your life”
– Two-Headed Boy, pt. 2, Neutral Milk Hotel.
pouring anointing oil on my mother’s
tongue is my mother
sweeping the devil out of my belly
because she has heard me say again
that God is a stranger to me.
She rises into a
divine crescendo of twisted tongue,
I lift out of my twisted body—
For us, at God’s door, is supplication.
Her Father’s house is a house of prayer
is becoming my house the days my Mother
rejects me, like a bad dream,
aligns me — parallel to earth because
ugly means too much for anyone to see.
Because kneading is making,
undoing the stiffness of a body
migrating its likeness to God.
When tongues pedal in reverse
they are doing many things:
restitching the umbilical holding body
to Ghost, tenuous and tender,
they are colouring darkness into an Enemy’s eyes,
amending a temple to its purpose, the worship
of True things. And if you clip those unholy,
those wings touching fast to nothing,
and render your mouth muscular in exercise of faith,
you will see that you too know what it means to
baptise mystery on the mundane.
I have never seen a person do what they cannot,
bend all you will,
the stick will stay or break, it will not melt into elasticity.
So this One becomes earless God to my prayers,
my face a mouthless mask on other days.
So this One is God ascending into a spectre
that injects my tongue with language it cannot make.
And God, descending into a broken instrument,
cutting morning’s air into tumultuous night.
“with a heavy cough
i could spit out my genealogy—all
of whose errors I am”
Every Day is a Lullaby, Pamilerin Jacob
where once I bore my father’s name
i split my thighs and emerge
fully grown, entitling myself;
the shedding of names
is a way of knowing oneself.
birth, I am my Father’s Father,
my Mother writes god on my every form—
what meaning to my contemplation of existence?
that woman thought it meaningful
to name me by the width of her country’s
synonym for ambition— antonym for a self-
prospered garden— she bends hidden in a man
she would call husband— aliasing something other.
this human thing to appellate:
to differentiate yet spurn distinction;
curse discomfort, you call a person the thing
you most badly want them to be.
i shorten his ration, unsit Adam
as I name, a million things to call this
thing, this life, this me, these things,
as they trespass the blades of my tongue
and morph meaning on the edge of time.
at last not the cumulative of warring expectations.
Adenike Akande lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Her work has appeared in Lolwe and Akuko. Twitter: adenike_onwu.