Nomenclature: In All My Beginnings, Fatherhood Is Erased

15 May 2023

It’s June, and I am tired of writing the same pentameter – my father’s dark hands and poor heart. The air curls with stillness, ascending from my lips – like he had so many times, before his heart gave out. Name a prettier way to plead guilty. Everything that reminds me of him cannot be my mother’s fault, and in the bereaved room, a semicircle of faces crowing, as though the first sunlight reaching down from the window shade had not in itself come with rage. From the tops of a few high brush, the voice of a blue jay calls, untouched, and for a moment, the past sits still inside another song, made of flesh and bone. At last, after a night of weeping, and striding between the two long benches at the corridor, heartbreak is simply as teleological as any other thrust. As a matter of fact, what prospect did my mother have then, if not the wind spilling with blossoms inside her? Five and a half years together, and my prodigal father says: I don’t love you anymore. There’s a dark cloud so heavy we get lost in it, which means my father was born and reborn from a single mistake, only to be hemmed back driven by pleasure. How much unsated mistake is too much? My father’s hair purpled by goose eggs thrown in from a river he’d tried to cross over. It is important for me to say, I wasn’t born yet how I know – memory functions like any other forms of semiology. Always, I see in my mother a kind of beforetime. That’s the other thing about conditioning. I taste the salt where affection rusts and every other human face is me; sesame, pumpkin and sunflowers. Isn’t that what it means to love too much – the heart, a reliquary full and rising. I think of her almost every time I fall in love – how the rush of a name parades grief with tenacious hunger. In profile, my father is lying on the edge of the box spring bed, beneath a rich velvet quilt, and it is midnight, my mother’s arm around him, ready to root. Genetically, they were naked, talking together and nothing grew between them.

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About Ojo Taiye

Ojo Taiye Ojo Taiye is a Nigerian eco-artist and writer who uses poetry as a handy tool to hide his frustration with society. Taiye’s most recent work is largely concerned with the effects of climate change, homelessness, migration, drought and famine, as well as a range of transversal issues ranging from racism, black identity and mental health. His current project explores neocolonialism, institutionalised violence and ecological trauma in the oil-rich, polluted Niger-delta. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Mycelia, Salamander, Consequence Forum, Stinging Fly, Rattle, Cincinnati Review, Banshee, Willow Springs, Lambda Literary, Fiddlehead, Puritan, Frontier Poetry, Notre Dame Review, or Strange Horizon. Taiye worked on the Future(s) 2021 with Catalyst Arts and Belfast Photo Festival and 2021 Sustrans Black History Month Art Project.

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