Poetry: In the Beginning


By Abdulafeez Olaitan

In the beginning, everything shapeshifts into grace,
into harmony. All the prayers made on father’s grave
became roses sprouting on my fingertips, on my palms.

You see, my dad told this story first. Before everything
shapeshifted into doom. Before death escaped the palms
of the Almighty. Before grief got hold of a boy & moulded

him in its own image. But in this poem, there is no grief
at all. Just an illusion of grievances. Sometimes, I wonder,
just like they wonder. What becomes of lovers confusing

light for fire. So let bliss incandescent this house. For how
do you navigate the labyrinth of the night without a lover.
Without a lover holding your hands in stark darkness.

Once, you caught sight of the moon. Once, the moon
sank into your eyes. Once, your heart happy as a box
of birds, sheen like the moon at evenfall & donned in a toga

of grace. Once, your heart adorned with prismatic colors
by steady sunshowers. Once, your heart revelled like ants
in sugary particles. Once, there was only bliss & liss.

With your tongue, you carry out a litmus test. Perhaps,
the way forward is backwards. Again, the way forward
is backwards. As far back as the days of wine and roses.

The heavens complement your realization with a light
descent of rain. You are Midas & everything you touch
becomes gold. Now let’s watch you ascend into the night

sky like angels most revered. Before the solstice moon
casts a shadow on you like the appended signature
of my mother on my father’s death certificate. When

the death bell rang on father’s door, the whole world
appeared to have collapsed on me. And so we gathered
in unity the same way flies gather around a honey pot,

the way ants are attracted to urine. The dreams of a
better tomorrow keep us awake. Forgive me, father,
your daughter is about to take a new step. You should

grow an assortment of tingles in your belly, too. These
are not scenes of sin that you had seen. This is nothing
like ever before. Oluwatosin, or who’s better deserving

of worship than the Most High? Or have you ever thought
about how whether angels are the stars carefully sprinkled
atop the clouds. Have you not watched the clouds transform

into canvasses & the canvasses into constellations. Do not
wait until mountains transform into wool & the wool into
pullovers. Till the sky splits open then becomes murky oil.

Till the sun folds into an envelope of thick darkness. Till
stargazers patronize the morning star for longevity. Do not
wait. Prostrate to the Most High as everything in the universe does

in unending prostrations. So couples, hold hands & never
let go. Tourniquets & rosaries, & for everything love brings,
we will raise our voices so high in Takbir, for prosperity.

& for everyone death takes, we are reminded of the end but
every end is a reversed beginning: inna-l- hamda lillahi
& verily, all praises and adorations, are due to Him.

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