i wade in troubled waters, in far yet familiar places, in bodies of sweat and grief, dating back to stories birthed in the kitchen, in between aromas of sliced onions and bleached palm oil, in rising hums and heavy eyes that knit nothing but yarns of history, tales that morph into roses and thorns and fears and tears, all etched on grave stones dyeing this river in me. talcum powder, cries and comfort dissolve into my mother’s subtle words and the weight of eleven children that stand as mementos flow from her lips. i want to pull back the ones who drowned, the vines that held on to the heart of my grandmother, that mutter, we still live, we still breathe in what you carry on your chest. i guess grief isn’t a stranger in this home. i visit my grandmother’s house and the wind here doesn’t whisper before it tells me i’m a bearer of its colours. what do you know about leaves that find a home in the abode of old bars of soap, skins that see more than just a sibling in the shade they both carry? journey into me. every question here is a stutter my mother never explained. perhaps some types of pain are passed down, they don’t leave like the smell of camphor on her ìborùǹ, the one she told me her mother gave her, and her mother’s mother. i drown into rotting photographs, in strange places melted into black and white memories and my mother’s conversations in the dark don’t seem so vague, not anymore. i find my way into her prayers and i rinse away the guilt, this heaviness i’ve tried to balance, all my life.
ìborùǹ – a type of shawl in Yorùbá language