Ayomide Festus

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Come to the waters

a petal opens up into the
arms of one april morning. 
it was my father, calling me
to come to the waters 
to see with his eyes. 

i forgot to begin this poem
with a eulogy, a death song 
of a father who bellied the aches 
of a lonely mother & carried it to 
a grave full of bones & a cavity of dust. 

then i begin with a ritual;
a girl who woke up into 
dark stains on the pages 
of her skin & the outbreak 
of fire in her eyes. 

i forgot to title this poem
"the bitterness of a bloated father" 
but i remember that i was born with 
a swollen body & there was salt
on my tongue. 

so i continue with my body as a sanctuary 
& my mother's silence; inordinate utterances 
before a wrecking wind. 
we have found home in the mouth of a father 
who retreats before naming his children after a war. 

i sail into an ocean with my fingernails
digging into the memory in your skull.
i am tired of living in this house
that stinks of ruin & blood. 

i am tired of screaming into 
every night like a lost lamp 
in darkness. 

this april, a petal will open up 
into the arms of the morning 
& it will be my father whispering
son, come to the waters. 


Ayomide Festus is a Nigerian poet. His works have been published or forthcoming in Icefloe press, eunoia review, quality poets review, after the pause quarterly review, errata oribhabor monthly review and elsewhere.