This tongue is coated with thrush,
a sad pink field of lonely birds searching for their mothers.
These hands are etched with hieroglyphs,
crude memories at the basin of my country.
In praise of your holy name, I have become the devotee
of a hill built against my shadow.
My heart is empty of blood rustled by storm
and I have only one song: loss.
In praise of your name, I am filled with absurd verses
and theory that savannah is always a place of kindness for the gazelle.
I am guided with delicate psalms
whenever I want to invoke your name, my deity,
because this country has become a valley of wild flowers
where a squad of soldier ants prepares their cauldron of grief.
In praise of your holy name deity, my lipless mouth has become
a matchbox house plundered by your glory.
A Thread on Hope
osùn is a traditionally made powder among the Yoruba
How many birds does a prayer need to reach the sky?
In this country, I have held my hope tightly in-between
my fingers. I have begged my mother to wait for me
so as to grease her skin and talcum her face with osùn. I have
treaded the roads where young men auction dreams
in wooden carts. I have listened to their daily silent testimonies
and miracle of days that bear tales of hard rains.
I have nursed myself on the confession of an April
neighbour that said breath is the only invisible line
that connects us to everything. I wait under this tree
praying for birds to bring new song to the river.
Salawu Olajide lives in Nigeria. He is the author of Preface for Living Homeland (African Poetry Book Fund), with poems published or forthcoming in Glass, New Orleans Review, Salt Hill, and Waccamaw.