Pilgrimage, by Saheed Sunday

On the street of Ikorodu, a boy painted in the color of his fatherland stuffs all periodic elements in his mouth like a bowl of akamu. I don’t know what it means when a white language pulls a body to the center of transcendence. This boy doesn’t know what it means to be a tongue that doesn’t hold levity, hold power. Black alphabets are mourned from the temple of our stomach. We know the form every adjective takes to turn Jakande into Iowa. Who knows if this is an aubade serenading a song into notes; notes into strings; strings into bullets; bullets into silence? Shush—a missile barricades the defense of anything that isn’t shaped like a death plaque, sharp-edged. I’m being taught every way to be a sea anemone—being a fish and a flower at the same time. Foul tricks. My mother lived all her life wetting her tongue with sweet things. A white flower dulls the redness of her flowery tongue. It calls all the confection “a plague.” It calls all the blood that veins through her skin “bad blood.” Peace. Piece. Piss. I wonder which is the smoothest way to say that I am done without becoming an aftermath of a refracted light.


Saheed Sunday, NGP V, is a Nigerian poet, a Star Prize awardee, a Best of the Net nominee, and a HCAF member. He is the author of a poetry collection Rewrite The Stars. He was shortlisted for the Rachel Wetzsteon Chapbook Award, Wingless Dreamer Poetry Prize and The Breakbread Literacy Project. He has his works on Shrapnel Magazine, Rough Cut Press, The Temz Review, Brittle Paper, Poetry Column, Off Topic Publishing, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, he was shortlisted for the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange.

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