Ernest Ògúnyẹmí


There’s this boy inside me, he walked the aching streets for two burning
Summers—and still, he failed to arrive at his true name. This is not a mis-
Fortune, though the paved roads sprouted blades and the streetlights
Turned to claws: I tell you, it was all beauty, or now it is. A deer leaped
Out of the low sky and dropped dead. His eyes singing, the boy bent low,
Understanding—as if a knife had awakened in him—there is an arrow
In a promise, a mystery O in every hidden hour. He touched the animal’s
Warm blood and rubbed her yellow over his small face. Grace, oh grace.
To be marked yellow must be grace, he thought. Nobody told him that
The deer down like a tired piano pregnant with a river was the name
He had all his cowry life been searching for. Nobody was there but the
Low sky, blinking like a cat in a séance, and getting lower and lower.
One day, the heaviness turned to a mirror—a transparent mirror—and
The boy opened his mouth and two white birds flew out, went straight
Into a pocket in the sky, where a star had been once—the boy, he plucked
It for dinner the night before; the ghosts inside him crying and crying
For a vibrant elegy. It was then that the hour turned Amen. Arrived
At knowing about the secret of his life, gently, he lay under the peach
Tree near the road, and there fell into dream. I woke up so brand new.