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.