Excuses By Mobolaji Olawale


For some Nigerian whose name I do not remember

They say when it is time for death,
He comes in the form of excuses-
Charred bodies, paper-white palms,
A female child reloading a machine gun
With broomstick arms.
They say death wears many faces
But the taste is the same.
We lick our wounds and affirm this
In the way the blood doesn’t clot in our mouth
Turning into tears, then into alcohol.

I have replayed these scenes in my head
But my taste buds pick up no signal:
You in the air
Just below the third mainland bridge
And above Lagos lagoon
Water swallowing you
And all your vulnerability in one deep gulp
Like mother’s arms;
The news coming on the TV to meet
A sea of censuring hisses in the audience
Then some casual talks, then some giggling.

They say death has many faces
But yours isn’t one of them.
They never tell us that later
When the small fishes, crabs and lice
Come to meet by your side
There will be no casual talks or laughter
They will go straight into the act of nibbling.

By Mobolaji Olawale


A medical doctor, graduate of University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He has had works published in Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review, Afridiaspora, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tuck Magazine etc. He writes from Lagos and tweets from @theBolaji

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