my mouth shapes into an empty amen—

like the last prayer stuck in my throat at my brother’s wake.


in another version, i shape the poem into a [          ]

& enjamb through it towards my brother.

towards F. towards a comma. towards a full

stop. there’s a lot to behold at the opening of a wound wor[l]d.


10 am. i sit in a café – 6.4314° N, 3.4203° E     

& text my father           in my mother tongue.


in Yorùbá, the word for grief & loss only differs with their diacritical marks.

say grief: ọ̀fọ̀       /       say loss: òfò

tell me which incantation [ ọfọ̀ ] could bring back all my dead.


o wounded poem.

look/ words are shapeshifters & they can morph

into different meanings depending on the tone.


in a dream, i’m back to the park searching for you.

& there you are, with the other kids playing tag.            i try to reach you

but i can’t. all i hear is a white noise &                   /

           something i’m yet to grasp fully.


this makes no sense.

because this is confessional.


because i’m fluent in my father tongue

      & spilling into another language.


because i’ve been swimming through phases only to find

      my root’s in my mother’s ancestral hut.


there is a scar on my left arm that reminds me of F.      in our language,

scar is àpá / arm is apá.

the scar, the size of a tonal mark, a memory.


the truth is/ i blame myself for letting you go play in the park.

bitter truth: i should not [but i did].    the truth is/ my mother still tongues

your name at night/

        but no language can translate you back to life.


remember there’s a lot to be–

hold at the sight of a bullet wound. remember

there’s a lot to hold at the sight of a bullet wound.


look. sometimes i walk

backwards/          with the hope to un-earth you/ un-funerate you/

        write life back into the verse of your body.


because God understands every language.

          every sign & symbol. every sigh—


because death is a door & the threshold is everywhere.

          & they walk right through it.