Wild Mushrooms

a visit from my ghost mother

Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí

my ghost-mother comes home today.

in each of her hands, she carries water.

 

Why home water in the bowls

of your hand, Moimi? I ask.

 

my mother says nothing, she only looks

at me. her eyes the timid coldness of

 

stone freshly collected from the belly

of the sea. there, where her mouth should be,

 

is a door. I take a peep into the door.

I see a long passageway, where words

 

are tulips nailed to brickless walls.

she reaches out her arm to gather me.

 

she feels my neck, my face (a canvas

that knows the history of saltwater).

 

then she unbottons my shirt, gently,

in the way that only a mother can.

 

then she pulls down my shorts,

then my boxers. with her hand

 

prayered around my wrist, she leads

me outside, under an open blank sky.

 

from the spring in her palms, she washes

me. she washes my head, my neck,

 

she does not forget the center of my body.

done, she wraps me in herself to quiet the cold.

 

when we return inside the room,

she dresses me. she puts me

 

in the bed. she peels the skin off

her bones. with her spittle she glues

 

each piece of skin together, until

it's whole enough to wrap God

 

a present. she folds it for thickness

&, pinching the sides, she covers me.

 

before she leaves, she presses her lips

to my cheeks. tomorrow, I'll wake up

 

to this hunger to be held.

Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí is a writer from Nigeria. His works have appeared/ are forthcoming in Tinderbox, Yemassee, the Indianapolis Review, Down River Road Review, the Lit Quarterly, the Dark Magazine, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry III, 34 Orchards, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, Acumen Poetry Magazine, Glass, Lucent Dreaming, Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry, Litro Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the curator of The Fire That Is Dreamed of: The Young African Poets Anthology. His tiny book of poems, my mother died & I became _______, is forthcoming from Ghost City Press. He is a reader at The Masters Review and Palette Poetry, and an assistant editor at Counterclock Journal.