by Kolawole Samuel Adebayo
Before Boko Haram guns sank holes in his skull,
He was a lively boy, he was a sprinter, he was his high school’s champion.
Before he became the reason for familial grief,
He was the origin of my mother’s smiles.
I cannot say “our mother” because Bashir is dead.
He is now dust,
Grasses have grown from his body.
And to use the pronoun “our”
Is to make my mother revisit the first phase of her grief.
The dead things do not come alive again in this city
Filled with bomblasts and gunshots.
I remember your last words;
I can see them as if in a vision,
Written boldly on my mind’s walls:
“Save me, Bareed! Save me, Bareed! I am dying”;
But I did not look backwards because I was running,
Running from those who separate the soul from its body;
Because when fire burns us all,
We do not save others before ourselves.
I do not write with tears anymore
Because salt water is no elixir—
Powerless to cause resurrection.
I still grief;
Grief never truly goes away,
But I have learned to live peacefully
With the memory of a dead brother.
And I am blessing his gone soul with this poem.