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The Cartographer Of Memory
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9 Dead Men

For Romeo Oriogun

3:05 AM

A boy jumps out of a watery dream into the embrace of his dark room to watch a man break himself

bit by bit into love and loss. A boy calls this man father. Say empty rooms—

We walk back in time

holding hands through corridors heavy with the stench of memory, we pick a spot in history


and watch our mistakes come to life again— sister (a sunflower) gets scorched
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I watch father dream all the dreams he couldn't live mother melts into a river of loneliness

she sucks us in, we all drown.

The universe is weaving living jokes out of dying bones but our tongues are already too heavy with the names of all the

dead we carry, so we don't laugh. Say lost soles—

We try to trace cracks on the wheel of nostalgia

with fingers that have grown weary of touching broken things (dreams, women, walls, hearts)

to find where we first gathered our strength into smoke

and gave it to the sky where we first lost it—

the will to stand without crumbling into a sea to live without dying a little,

god is rewriting hope on the skin of lost children but we can't find them

we can't touch them

we can't bring them home we can't make them stay. Say dead men—

Grief is the mother of loss,

loss is the brother of despondency and before we got our fingers wet

soiled even,

snooping through wreckages of love that couldn't grow in a body besieged with want for things that don't die,

before we gifted our prayers to the wind begging it to ride to the ears of god, before silence became a ritual we immersed ourselves in to survive, before the breaking,

before the healing,

we had first tried to dream you back to life in different forms—

in still waters in growing fire in warm air, we failed.

You mirror me, and for you

I gather desire the way birds gather sounds in a beak

beckoning morning to fulfill the promise of renewal,

I am gathering every dying piece of this body into a song and gifting it to the wind again,

I am driftwood floating in the sea drifting,


staring into the face of god daring heaven to shatter me again.


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