“What My Children Remember” by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan


The sight of helicopters circling the sky on mornings
when the sky broke into shrapnel, falling on our roofs as

we quivered out of the dread of being dead, as we crouched
behind the doors, the air emitting smoke, the cadence of bullets 

quieting the sound of the world, leaving us to stare deep into
the residues of blasted things, into the dreams turned to embers,

to things that slipped off our fingers as we held them, like a baby,
thinking we could revive some things out of everything we toiled

for, for years under the sun, far away from our families.
My children remember the mornings after our houses became ruins,

the sadness on the faces of those who managed to bury their beloveds
after the blast, those who resorted to singing a threnody every night

for years, those who dressed their hearts in grief as war buried
their dreams. My children remember their schools left as

wreckage, the streets where they walked before the blasts becoming
silent alleys, bereft of the usual talks of people walking home on

nights when the streetlights beamed steadily, illuminating the world.
My children remember the emptiness of waiting behind when home was

a grenade ruining everything, when home was a book full of the names
of the dead, the dying, the ones lost to blasts, the ones leaving home

for exile.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019
Tribute to African Poets


Rasaq Malik Gbolahan: “To me, writing poetry is an act of healing. I find myself returning to it whenever I feel broken by the tragedies of the world. In the process of writing, I learn new things about the world and the people who inhabit it. I try to weigh the occurrences that happen and how writing is deployed to react to it. Through the active presence of poetry, I try to document the lives of the unheard, the victims and survivors of war. In Nigeria and countries where there is perpetual war, poetry acts and reacts through careful documentation of these heart-wrenching events.” (web)

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