Ọmọ Ẹlùkù

Ridwan Tijani


First time my dad fell

& couldn’t help himself up

I blinked

                                                        World of speed

They carried him out of the yellow van

feet first

Mùsùlùmí òdodo

to be buried before sundown

I remember one night we all

in living room

Watching BBC Merlin

he’s sitting on flaking cowhide

two kids on the floor

and we steal glances at him     sharp as a lance

from time to time


cos he never allowed us to watch television so late

Sound sculpture

gripping armrests

his eyelashes narrowing

at the CGI dragon

a sardonic John Hurt boomed out of

He was up

                                                            so late


because mum was returning from Ondo

that night

A man looking at his kids looking at TV

& even when we stopped glancing at him

& inside Camelot

we saw him


with numerous eyes children place around a room

like mirrors

we saw him

with the ambient meaning of a room

A man looking at his kids


bloodshot eyes, smelling like somebody

you love

He would come in from the backyard

spoored with scent of time

                                                            elephant grass

old files & camphor


then he’s fallen

laying there

Being shrouded

laying there as if to start snoring

For he was

given to oneirological combinatorics, baami


the contours of dreamtime

Dispersion heavy

like the purring of my cat Taru

looking out the window at solid sunlight

out of skin

                                                            I envied his ease

How with shoulder shrug

he could readjust

unfurl                                                 self

Idowu esu leyin ibeji

His laughter sound

like alphabet in Yorùbá

Omo eluku mede mede

He smiled like Diane Keaton

Stringy nipple hair

the colour of a bur oak bark

Omo imale afele ja

The way he

             ritually shaved his head

on the cracked stoop

every Sunday

with the same squat pail by his side

how he loved to listen

to Musiliu Haruna Ishola

When sky turned pink

& the vintage radio he would periodically unearth

“Lo gbe alafowoyi jade”

showing us how it worked

& telling us terse stories about his time

about Murtala & Ghana must go

as if to say


this is history—a perpetual winding



Ridwan Tijani is from Lagos, Nigeria.

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