outside eden, every sweetness is the fruit of disobedience
In the predawn dark, you disobey the warnings of yesterday’s moonlight tale and walk backwards.
You have not travelled far before the story unravels. The whisper of a spirit blooms against your ear
And like a flower, the bloom is urgent. And your attention is tethered to its softness
As they whisper I am lost. Point me towards tenderness.
Begin again. This time with the knowledge that tenderness is a fruit. & what you seek is the dark loam of a home. Say garden. Say the soul of a fruit is its flavour. Remember the flavour of the exhale after a kiss, the brief hunger of lips waiting to touch, & listen, as the air whirls into a compass, pointing.
Look how the leaves gleam. Bowls waiting for the pour of sunlight. Look again. Look how knowing is as sudden as the birth of colour. As sudden as a daydream
waking into its end. Look now, into the absence of leaves. Watch how the birds clothe the trees in a pluming garment, Nestled at the stems, waiting for the season to fall into flight.
When you ask how they fell asleep. They weep What joy it was to be alive! To exhale and have it swell Into wind. We loved our breath so much, we held it.
Under the moonglow, you are warm against each other, waiting for the birds to shed their feathers for a simpler disguise. They point towards a locust perched on a bird & say look how it gnaws at the feathers of a leaf that has forgotten itself. They tell you of a life where your father’s eyes rests on you long enough to wonder Son, why am I always dying in your poems? I am here. & if I were not, am I unworthy of the mercy of finality? Of a blade that kills after it slits? In this life, your silence is obedience to your mother’s warnings—do not converse with the dead lest your mouth casket your tongue. & your speech is a wielding of distance against your father—the blade that sharpens by bleeding a gulf between you.
The story goes that the spirits roam because once, a boy disobeyed his mother and walked backwards,
And ran into a spirit and when they asked him for directions towards home, towards a body; he pointed to the sky.
The story goes that the spirits roam because heaven is where the sky ends. Because heaven is where the spirits rest.
Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni is a genre-bending writer whose poetry was shortlisted for the 2019 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize. He is a reader at The Masters Review and is currently making attempts at beauty while applying for a citizenship in Lucille. Twitter: @obafemithanni; Instagram: @obafemithanni.