Before Your Mama Knew Us as Light

by Romeo Oriogun

She took us to the house filled with letters facing east,
at first, we learnt from the muezzin’s call
the secret of sounds,
how it bends men into obedience
& I thought this is it, the way to stay alive
is to be silent,
is to imprison joy inside our bones,
a ritual twisted by us into a chameleon,
born out of a ritual meant to change the day into night.
You sat at the edge of the earth
to know if I meant deny the flesh.
We are dead in every world except this one wrapped
in blue. The man in a white gown washed the Arabic letters
for salvation into a bowl, instructed us to wash ourselves
clean of desire & learn between words
the gate through which God
took a bone & built a woman’s body.
Before we learned to fight, we knew how to survive
& I watched you eat the sky, made it a miracle
that won’t touch a woman’s body
& maybe this is the way to rob God
or a means of walking back into your eyes
to be saved from what threatened to convert us into stones.
I watched you pass through my ribs,
a man nesting in the blood of another man
& this is wisdom made out of teeth & bones & prayers drowning in water
& when we came out to say our final prayer, the man took us into his arms,
passed our names through prayer beads to harden us
into men empty of the Hunger to love in our language.
When he was done, I softened my name in milk & prayed under the door.
May I find love in whatever body that gives me home. Amen.

Published on October 10, 2019