“The Only Foreign Aid My Mother Ever Wanted Was Safety” by Ojo Taiye

Ojo Taiye


after the four Congo refugees who died when their overloaded canoe capsized in Lake Albert, with lines borrowed from Kristin Chang’s “Poem for an Immigrant’s Daughter

i kneel in the hairline light                 of exile & home. no one leaves                 home
if the ocean will swallow         them         up. strange         how sitting                 in a truck at the Sebagoro landing site on Lake
                Albert shoreline means peace.                                 yesterday
        my                         mother ate her own appendix in a Ugandan bound pirogue. not
because hunger makes you                                                         whole but because there
is a name for grief         to grow into. i come from a small world—a lifted paragraph from one                 of the worst conflict displacement affected shit holes.                         i understand the need to
define as a need for hope. In Uturi, my relatives are dying;
               not because they are                                                 Hema or Bagagere, but because
        they share the same land                 with minerals. once this
               highland was our birthplace.                         once we were birds carrying the sky
        into night. now i wake to red sand & follow                 a trail of enmity & blood.

* * *

on the side of a road in                 Kasia province,         a woman’s abandoned                         luggage
                        & a suitcase spilling out music CDs.                         what happened
to the                 woman?                           why is the case open? did she manage
                                                        to run away?

from Poets Respond
April 22, 2018


Ojo Taiye: “A recent wave of targeted attacks has left a trail of death, destruction, and mass displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern province of Ituri. The above poem is a sort of requiem for the symposium of endangered stars evicted to the water.”

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