White Is the Shade of Surrender & Other Poems

Hauwa Saleh Abubakar


I did not drown
I woke up in the water and let it leak
out of my eyes

This is the way I unravel today
I do not force myself into positivity
I watch YouTube videos of random people
and weep. 

I hold my body
The drowning ship and let it
submerge into the water
of all my wishes and longing that
have nowhere to go. 


Then I come back up for air 

I am not alone
This weight has reached others
across the globe too 

Even comfort has its own weight
But I am not allowed to go under
Everything I am begs my lungs
to keep me afloat. 

So I rest in the water, and whisper
Take me 

Take me wherever you wish
But please do not let me

Familiar Spirit

My grief is a familiar spirit that comes with a new face every day 
Just when I start to think I have mastered the curves of its face 

It changes the shape of its nose, 
It twists its mouth into something unrecognisable
And watches me stumble in the dark 

Trying to find what it is I had lost
But my grief is a familiar spirit 

No matter how much it changes
My body still says I know you

I know you so intimately
I have held you in between my hands once

My fingers had traced the lines across your skin.
I know you
You came last night too

I don’t know why you keep returning 
But please 

Don’t let me forget what I had lost.

White Is the Shade of Surrender

My brother wore my father’s white kaftan today
It fit so perfectly that for a moment
I could picture exactly what he once looked like in it
The way it sat on his body
Just enough to cover his whole being
Without smothering him
The way his funeral shroud did
And for a moment
Everything could be true 
In another universe
He was well enough to visit friends before he could leave 
No medications leaving him delirious on the bed
No heart-wrenching screams escaping his lips
He could laugh and crack jokes
And I got to say goodbye
In another world
He wore this white kaftan on his last day
Even the pain knew better than to stay close
My hands trembled as I googled what the white flag truly means
But I slipped into my grief and typed a white shroud instead
White is the colour of peace 
And surrender
But I am still struggling to wave mine in the wind.

Hauwa Saleh Abubakar is a writer and poet. Her works have appeared in The Weight of Years: An Afroanthology of Creative Nonfiction, Ake Review, Agbowo Magazine,and more. She is also the author of How to Practise Forgetting, a poetry collection that explores the world through the body on Okada Books. Hauwa is currently a journalist with HumAngle Media. She considers herself an accidental lawyer and aims to make people feel “something” with her works.

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