If only I could burn the echo to kill the
evidence of sound. I mean, my mother’s
voice over the phone: I was admitted to
the hospital. I didn’t want to tell you.
As if delay would not break me still. As if
it would separate venom from sting, leaving
only the spider’s sharp bore.
I know exactly what she meant, why she
didn’t tell me about the illness. The logic:
look, son, I am alive. Do not worry about me.
But I am stubborn in my compassion, so, of
course, I worried. Feverish all week, I was
burdened by the gravity of powerlessness.
It would weigh my bruised heart, and then
Despite all of its glory, the body’s ability will,
in the end, fail us. Accepting this truth may
or may not make a difference.
In times like these, the truth troubles me.
I have no agency to deliver the people I love.
My volition ends with the body’s limit.
I, physician of nothing. No antidote to erase
the wound. If I could, I would
erase the phone call, peel back
my mother’s voice reporting her illness,
peel back the illness till it forgets her body,
origami the wound for its paper-boat escape.
Indeed, I could build a house
full of conditions. But in the end, everything
crumbles to the reality of the body.
Look at my hands: hands.
No alchemy in the veins to repair. No blood
pure enough to wash clean affliction.
Lead me to a river that cleanses every plague.
A sea to reanimate the cell’s grey wilt.
Where are you?
O river. O saint of water.
Blue latitude. Wet miracle.
Samuel A. Adeyemi is a writer and editor from Nigeria. A Best of the Net Nominee and Pushcart Nominee, he is the winner of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2021. His chapbook, Rose Ash, was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set, 2023. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, 580 Split, Strange Horizons, Chestnut Review, Agbowo, Isele Magazine, Brittle Paper, Jalada, and elsewhere.