Listen:

sing and sing till your voice is a bullet
you are waiting inside
your father’s shadow

take your hands beyond
the starlight

perhaps it is the lullabies
of sheet mistaking you
for a pillow

only that there is no water in the river
anymore 

and fire too is a tongue
waiting to be caressed to live

you can’t have the world
to yourself
maybe you should
give yourself to the world

your legs on the floor:
like this and like that
your tongue mistaking blood
for wine

your voice is shawled
with a magnifying glass 

you will open your wounds
and make them a garden
& explain to the wind
the origin of pain

Detail from Henri Rousseau, The Repast of the Lion, 1907. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn.

Wale Ayinla

Wale Ayinla is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and editor. He is a Best of the Net and Best New Poets Award nominee, and his works appear on Palette Poetry, Connotations Press, Waccamaw, and elsewhere.