Wálé Àyìnlá is a 20-year-old Nigerian writer and poet who writes from the ancient city of Abeokuta. His work appears or is forthcoming on The Rising Phoenix, Dwarts, Expound, Kalahari Review and elsewhere. Twitter handle: @Wale_Ayinla
What inspired the poem: Growing up, I was always craving to visit my grandfather because of his stories, but one time when I returned home, I heard that my father had beaten my mother.
What it means to save yourself
We sit on the early carpet
of the night filling
our windowed eyes with grandpa’s tortoise stories,
sieving them into the basket of the lid
of the àtùpà. And like a drizzle
lost on its way to the sea, we hunch a balcony of snores.
Few miles away from depravity
and the city is
an oesophagus of hunger. The bats
gather in respiration. Fireflies
partake in the symposium
before the war stories mount a heap in our ears.
There are many sides to
a war. A boy
narrates his father into being.
Probably, that is the only memory
he retains. And like
ruins of war, he collects his grief in large numbers.