Abọ́sẹ̀dé is a journey back to self.
There are names we forget to hold in warm embrace.
In my grandfather’s mouth, Abọ́sẹ̀dé was
a sweet song told in the language of my forefathers.
Language that crafts
stories into names:
Abọ́sẹ̀dé; she who is born on the eve of a new week.
Language that speaks of origin and distant lands, origin that I struggle
to identify with. I search for these origins in stories and legends
told in the deep tongue of my ancestors.
I want my tongue to dance with theirs to the juju beats of our land.
We sweeten the union/ every utterance a moan of allegiance.
I beg my tongue to carry the pride in the accented pronunciation of Abọ́sẹ̀dé,
to flow into rhythm with the high tilt of the letter ọ́ and the low hum of the letter é.
But my tongue’s first love spits out these tones in jealousy. This foreign bride brings
her accent of colonization and twists ọ́ into o and é into e.
In his life, Grandfather called me Abọ́sẹ̀dé. His old wizened voice whispered
this name in prayers,
prayers to guide me back home.
Igbo- Yoruba Woman
Two cultures war inside me.
My tongue, a confluence
that brings two tribes together.
On the phone, I speak to my Yoruba Aunt,
She tells me not to bring home an Igbo man.
Never mind that I might want a woman.
My Igbo Aunt lines my mother’s chest
with ridicule for marrying a Yoruba man.
Tribalism daily echoes off the walls of my home,
I, their daughter and also their daughter,
a meeting point to bring two feuding clans together.
I stand in between,
Neither here nor there,
Never fully belonging.
Yet in this body
My mother’s battle etched on my back,
the story of my history burning hot on my tongue.
In this body,
I am Osun.
Raging storms and carving my own path.
Here I am also Ala,
Earth mother, nurturing and warm.
I proudly wear all of my ancestors on my skin.
Today you are your mother kneading dough
and singing a nation to sleep.
Yesterday, you became your father drinking palm wine
and climbing oaks.
You carry the seed of your people in your palm,
wear it on your wrists like your ceremonial beads.
Your ancestors sing a thousand amen at your becoming.
Your lineage, a song of women
with broken backs and sorrows.
They put a prayer in their mouth &
your name softens on their lips —
a sweet answer.
From murky waters
and melodies of despair, you sprout .
Tomorrow, you’ll be the daughter that leaves home
to break walls and awaken souls.
You wear both your parents well.
for Oláolúwa Ọ̀shọ́.
Olólùfẹ́ mi (n)
Definition : my love/my lover.
I love you in the quiet,
in the soft whispers at midnight
and the musical chirps of insects.
my lover holds me in the uncertainties and i. am. undone.
/there is a loudness here that my silence loves/ there is a profession unafraid, unbridled / it sits in our quiet/ in our soft whispers of devotion/ in our library of un echoed languages/ and we dance to it daily/ oh, we dance/ and we are unafraid to speak this loudness/ our bodies make their own language / our eyes sings/ our mouths breathes in this loud silence/ and we love in rhythm/ heart and head bound/one step in front of the other carefully/ we – well oiled machine working hand in hand/ i hold you / and you hold me/ perfect synchronization/
my lover calls me his and my heart leaps
/“my”/ he says, /“my”/ before every reference to me. who knew that a possessive adjective could cause so much joy. /“my”/ oh what rapture! what delight!.
To hold you in my hands is worship. amen.
At school, the boys say a girl’s body count
shouldn’t be more than three, they say five at most.
Abba Father, I call,
the day the stripes tore your flesh,
I fucked a man into my body.
This is how I find myself,
pilling bodies upon bodies,
the bodies I’ve fucked
by killing myself.
I should be at your temple
on bended knees
and a sober heart at your divine sacrifice
my body is a temple I pray to
bringing men and women to worship
at this holy tabernacle of pussy.
“You do not dictate what a woman does with her body”, I say to the boys at school.
Misogyny is a rot my body spends years unlearning.
It is warfare. And I am a warrior that conquers.
God is a woman
and she bends into a perfect arch
her fleshy altar nestled between soft yet sturdy thighs,
my tongue finds worship
spewing incantations of reverence.
This woman breathes fire
into my being. Her body,
I want to journey into her depths.
She draws her fire across my body
mapping out new cities, imprinting her soul
on mine and whispering love
into my skin.
She tells me “Open sesame”
and my legs part
like the Red Sea leading Israel to promise.
Her fingers drip my honey as they find their place inside me.
Here, our desire sings,
we make righteous sex.
Baptising ourselves in holy flame.
We burn and burn till we are left basking
in our true form; drinking in the sight
of each other with our eyes leaking love.
Here, we holy.
Here, we sex.
woman loving woman.
clit to clit.
breasts to breasts.
There is no abomination here. Only grace.
Olúwatamílọ́re Ọ̀shọ́ (Frontier XVII) is an emerging poet from Lagos, Nigeria. Her writings negotiate sensuality, familial dynamics, and identity. She tweets @Tamiilore_O.