Silent Synopsis & Other Poems
Shitta Faruq Adémólá
A Cartographer of Water
(W)holiness is a pandemic. You wonder why your silence darkens over a platter
Of silver stones. Read a book in the library, and mark that particular synopsis
Where Jesus wept. In this turbulent sea, fear not, for in it, a Jesus does not sleep.
He speaks in a particular language to the storm, to be still, to be reminded
That a royal law exists. Once in a lifetime, dem be broom wey never break,
Because it does not w(al/or)k alone. There is a kind of sea my eyes see;
A captain making love to the wind, ejaculating laughter into the mouths of eggs.
You (t/r)ake a poem, and pour its remnants into the chest of this cartographer.
I am a cartographer of water. I mould a map to appease the mermaids. We’re in a
World where we do not imitate the fish. I recite a multitude of du’a, and incantations,
To please her soul. To remind her of (w)holiness in a splintered land,
In a city of ugliness. Fún wa ní ẹ̀mí ìṣọ̀kan. Bùn wá ní ọpọlọpọ agbára láti so ‘wọpọ.
Give us the audacity to be romantic like the bodies of fishes in the sea.
There will be a whale, tender like flowers, purging love into bellies, into brokenness.
It’s one way of manifesting a knife and an orange – one kissing one, winding one; a plethora of bliss.
This is the body of poem my tongue ripples to taste – of tenderness,
Of a wound getting potbellied by kisses, by a thousand miracles.
*The title is adapted from a line in Clifton Gachagua’s ‘Madman at Kilifi’
Lord, scrape my body clean and give it a new skin.
All it takes a body to grow is to
run and not stop. My voice is an emblem of an awakened sun, each
tune a rhythm of light. The phoenix holds fire in its wings.
Fire will give it the strength to gather its ashes in the middle of an inferno.
That, I call a manifestation of fortitude.
Light, o Light. I want to admire my skin before a mirror, and wear
the beauty of the stars. My teeth, an array of cowries.
This new version of me is a temple for sacraments.
Cleanse my soul. O Lord, give me strength to fall into water and rise –
Unstained & beautiful.
I am at the forefront of a battlefield. This is me, indomitable,
My fears are sieved into the mouth of the wind.
I am now the fulfilment of my father’s last wishes.
Pray. Pray, boy.
Life will not carve its solemn fingers at your feet with ease.
Break bottles. Sing hymnal songs. Take a snail and break its shell.
You are a winner. You are a winner.
Portrait of Burning in a Place Made of Water
God, how do I make music out of this turbulence?
Somewhere, in a particular place, people fetch fire from the well – a well that was
Built to wash away sins. I forget things easily, my bad. The map is broken,
And I do not have access to sand to remould its brokenness.
They take fire after meals, cook iyán with fire, wash hands with fire,
Use fire to clean a baby that pooped on herself. What innocence? Playing with fire
Is writing a letter to death.
In this particular place, fire has become a cleansing. Muslims use fire for wudu,
The Christians pray into it for protection.
Even awọn tibi appease their gods by burning.
Burning has now turned into a ritual no water can heal.
In this place, boys go to school with marks of burning inscribed on their backs,
afraid of entering into the next ritual
Of playing with fire.
Girls enter the market wearing a crown of fire on their forehead,
Even the market burns. Even the street burns. Even the river is an abode of burning.
God, how do I make this music? This is a place where the joy of a little boy
Is burnt from his country’s madness. Where a father loses hope of staying alive
Every day he walks down the street. A girl will always return home as ash,
Her family already burning at home.
See, each time I remember this place, I also turn into a phoenix, burn myself and ascend to heaven.
God, if you may please, show me how to make this music.
Shitta Faruq Adémólá, Frontier XIV, is a 2021 SpringNG Writing Workshop alumnus, a young Muslim poet, digital artist, and fiction writer From Nigeria. He is the author of a microchap All I Know Is I Am Going To Be Beautiful One Day (Ghost City Press, 2021) and Night Club With Dogs (INKspired, 2022). His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Jalada Africa, Beestung Magazine, Blue Marble Review, Serotonin, FERAL, Third Estate Art, Rigorous Magazine, Icefloe Press, and elsewhere. He was the winner of the Fitrah Review Poetry Prize, 2021, the BKPW Poetry Contest (February edition) 2022, the World Voices Magazine’s July Poetry Contest 2022, a finalist for the BPPC June/July 2021, and was shortlisted for the Calanthe Poetry Prize 2022 and the Breadbreak Project 2022.
*Image by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash