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.