on nights like this, i carry 
my mother's prayers on my sleeve
for fear that my sanity will go south. 
Allah ya rabaki da shairin masu shairi

now, i know that grief 
is a way to learn that nothing
as the beginning of something
is the start of everything. 

how do you hide the tongue 
that keeps fighting your teeth 
when you try to call your mother’s name,
or her favourite meal, or the proverb 
she says when you pick on your younger brother? 

i'm not a comedian 
but people find my clothes & shoes funny.
maybe it's the way i wear them 
or the molds that grip them. 
can't tell which. 

since music in the mouth of an orphan
is mistaken as roƙo, 
grief taps its feet on my tongue
& begins to dance. 


understand that grief 
can only drown you
but you can't drown it.
that prayers won't reach God fastest 
when you sip a bit of gin 
nor wash the fragrance of pain
crawling on your skin. 

prayer is a way of cleansing the soul.

after performing my wudu,
with my forehead on the prayer mat,
i said, my Lord, sentence grief 
to eternity in the name it carries—fire
but i unwound my tongue when nightbirde said
grieving is the soul's way of saying it mattered. 
now, i say, my Lord,
let the fire it carries dip in zamzam 
& never learn how to rekindle again. 

About the Author:

Zaynab Bobi, Frontier I, is a Nigerian poet, digital artist, and photographer from Bobi. She is a member of Hilltop Creative Art Abuja branch, Poetry Club Udus, Frontier Collective, and a Medical Laboratory Science student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto. Her works are published and forthcoming in Blue Marble ReviewBarren MagazineIsele MagazineType House Literary Magazine, Night Coffee LitWrongdoing MagazineRulerless LitHarbour ReviewB’K MagazineOlney MagazineAll My RelationsSalamander InkAnti-Heroin Chic, Kalahari ReviewSledgehammer LitPraxis MagPaddler Press, WRR, Overhead Literary MagazineMelbourne Culture CornerIce Floe PressLunaris ReviewRigorous MagazineOlit MagazineThe Shallow Tales Review, and more. She tweets @ZainabBobi. 

Feature image by blauthbianca / Pixabay