By Toluwanimi Obiwole

your mother sings songs of independence

we are the children of cross atlantic betrayal and new revolution

your father can still feel the splintered wood of bomb shelters on his palms

he knows so well how bittersweet it is to be the first generation that is neither dark country nor colony

to know you are the breath the nation was waiting to take

after drowning in a shipwreck of chains and missionary families

these days I call myself connected

a small flag sits on my table shuffled between english essays

my hair still curls like the smoke from the first house I lived in

but I speak my native tongue with an imperial flair

I pretend to remember the smell of red Lagos afternoons

I want so badly to know what home feels like when the streets have known your blood for centuries

I know too well the ache of a half-remembered motherland

I’ve met men in taxis whose smiles are love letters to Gaza and Somalia

they teach their children how to dance

smile when they only answer in English

the heart of the immigrant father writes

dear america,

our constitutions are written in your language in our blood

we’ve been looking for our children

England, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, we do not want the bodies back

only return to them our memory

the songs of Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Tunisia, the Congo

a history like ours needs to be summed to be remembered

I tell my country  I’ll come back for it like some bent rusted box

but my home is not the shell of a war

it is not a broken-hearted lover looking at the same moon

my home is the aging oven my mother bakes in

it is a healing wound

a body with gold bones stolen right from the chest

they would call her Eve

the one who came after

the one who gives birth to lost children

the dark continent

where even the ground is starving

but home is not the lies in a dusted textbook

they cannot write my history for me

arrogance cannot speak of love

home will remember me when I return


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