Fig tree

Elegy for the fig tree

by Agbaakin O-Jeremiah

but what business do i have   with the living?

we all become slaves   to memories & chains

remain only to be broken. broken by songs,

a figment plucked from the son’s imagination

of sweetness. or at worst, a quenching. verily,

i have never vanquished loneliness. i tremble

at a body in the white shroud, then lowered in

a slow crater made by hands falling & rising.

iyanju  l’agbe n gbin— we sow a seed for this

soil to ponder on.  i feel kin with what’s other

than me. the paw that holds the claws like key

teething into the unknown animal of my body.

why shouldn’t i trust the dark? the unripe fig.

i fear for the obstinately unripe plantain, for

the life it so much guards against a keen knife

& a pot of boiling water & the net of a grill in

the backyard.  but the rot has come to stay. its

blackening peel burnt into potash & camwood

for a lather cleansing us & all our dead. verily,

i’ll bring a dove into my house but let the owl

starve outside. verily, i fear to touch the dead

cock more than a maternal hen gathering her

children in her wings, & the rest in the shadows

of those leavened wings. her eyes red with love

or fear. i love my fears, for they wait to soften

at my embrace. i fear my love will turn sour in

a mouth like a sponge of water turning sour in

a forsaken mouth, after the honey of mere words

& our sweet kiss. what always lingers is the curse.

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


O-JEREMIAH AGBAAKIN holds an LL. B degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His poems are recently published or forthcoming in Palette, Poet Lore, Guernica, Pleiades, North Dakota Quarterly, RATTLE, among others. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and his manuscript placed finalist for the 2020 Sillerman FirstBook Prize for African Poets. He has served as editor/reader for Africa in Dialogue, PANK and Jalada Africa.



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