Gbenga Adesina

       1. VANISHING

I give you my rain,

the dark verbs and clatter from which there is no returning.

I give you my invented silence.

I give you maps, the crevice from which my cities have fallen.

I give you the small country of my laughter.

I give you lights parsing through lives, the fleeting

moth of days, my hours of beseeching.

I give you the night hours from which I wake a city of salt.

I give you my private animals, the tendrils of dark. I keep away from light.

I give you my silt, its unnamable taste.


                                     New York

On the train,

I sit outside the port city of my skin.

Those who love me say I have just been sighted

haggling over fish with dark, serrated women

in an open stall in Marrakesh.

Here, the train arrows into earth’s dark.

Four black teens start to hum a loop of love.

One of them leaps unto the train’s pole,

coils his body around it and pirouettes. His arms and legs

become a wiring of beige light. A child on a man’s lap points,

creaks her teeth open and claps. I see my first smile in a century of eyes.

Then quick, like betrayal, two men in plain clothes spring into the boys.

Cuffs. Police batons. In the flutter of bodies, one man

rams his fist unto a boy’s face of subtracted salt.

The train halts.

My body hurls itself into night’s trembling dark.

Gbenga Adesina, a Nigerian born poet and essayist, is a joint winner of the 2016 Brunel African Poetry Prize. He was a 2016 Norman Mailer Poetry Fellow at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and his poem “How To Paint A Girl” was selected by Mathew Zapruder for The New York Times. More of his poems are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere.

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