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In and out of water

By Overcomer Ibiteye in Issue Seven, November 2022

There’s a fierce audacity about water:
the way it barges into palimpsest buildings unannounced
the way the buildings are sucked into a void
the way the water barrels our bodies into a concave
cross-referencing us with open tombs.

There are different ways to view the sea,
different ways to zigzag our images on water.
We can stand on the beach and watch the water
clone our images into an inverse equations.
Or we can dive into the water

and imitate the way the sea bends its hips to the opera
of high-pitched ducks and seagulls.
Or just like this moment, we can sink to the spot
where points and edges blossom
against the fizz of water.

Say, a monsoon is a blueberried photographer
waiting to freeze this moment into a legacy,
a striking memory,
a headline on Fox News.
Our eyeballs are like squeezed cranberries, red and frothy.

The water is tangy and blurred with tears
& somewhere, a fish recognizes a human’s face.
Few seconds later, there’s the familiar fwoosh of a body
swept into a canine passway.
Then a gurgle.
Then the loud crunch of bones.

When this is over
we’ll be enmeshed in a battle for names,
a clamor to be known,
to be called something.
Every one of us will want to be seen on TV,
sandbagged into ashy headlines:
Sixty families, now homeless.

And when our kids ask us to tell them
where our identities are buried,
our throat cells will fold
into extinction.

How do you describe the anatomy of loss to a child?

© 2022 Overcomer Ibiteye

Overcomer Ibiteye

Overcomer Ibiteye is a Nigerian poet and writer. She's an alumnus of the SprinNG Writing Fellowship. Her works have appeared in anthologies and magazines like Land Luck Review, Iskanchi, Scrawl Place Magazine, Starline Science Fiction and Poetry, African Writers Space and others. She was shortlisted for the African Writers Awards (2021), the Spectrum Poetry Contest (2022) and the Calanthe Collective Prize for Unpublished Poetry (2022).

Poetry by Overcomer Ibiteye
  • In and out of water