On the radio, the world is drowning
with the dreams of immigrants
crammed in the fragile body of a ship.
In what looks like a slow rendition
of a dirge, the sea sways forth and back,
its face stained with blood.
Sometimes when I say home
my mouth becomes a makeshift
grave for missing dead bodies.
Sometimes grief means the light
disappearing in the eyes of a man
paddling his life when the sea
rages and splits into bodies
of the drowned. Somewhere today,
a woman, lean and exhausted,
strokes the back of her child to
know if he is still alive. There
are many ways to depart the
world but the sea is the most
unsafe. At night, the screams
of grieving women
echo louder than the prayers
of those who return home each
day to carry the photographs
of their dead like a placard.
In the dark sky, the birds sing
the solemn songs of mourning.
Everything that remains
becomes a proof of absence.
Rasaq Malik is a co-founder of Àtẹ́lẹwọ́, the first indigenous online journal devoted to publishing literary work written in the Yoruba language in Nigeria. He is a graduate of the University of Ibadan. His chapbook, No Home In This Land, selected for Chapbook Box edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani has been published. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, Antigonish Review, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Lit Hub, Michigan Quarterly Review, Minnesota Review, New Orleans Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, Salt Hill, Spillway, Southern Humanities Review, Stand, Transition, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. He won Honorable Mention in 2015 Best of the Net for his poem “Elegy”, published in One. In 2017, Rattle and Poet Lore nominated his poems for the Pushcart Prize. He was shortlisted for Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2017. He was a finalist for Sillerman First Book for African Poets in 2018.