I wrote this during the heat of my bipolar, when everything—food, music, my own voice, even physical interactions—was tasteless to me. When I hummed a tune and my ears savoured it, it meant that my mental illness had taken some sort of break on me. I did drugs—Molly for instance—to engender this break. I’d just finished working on a draft of my full-length poetry collection, which I shared with a poet, who said the entire book was obsessed with the grief of losing my mother. He meant well, but it felt as if he was downplaying my loss; however, he was only drawing a line between art and grief. The poem’s a prayer, a love song, a testimony to a time in my life that’s done, because, thankfully, now I don’t have to wait for bipolar—to dance; and I don’t have to do drugs to enjoy my dancing. Glory!
when I open my mouth & my voice tastes good
to my ears, I know that bipolar wants me
to dance, because on most days I don’t enjoy
music or anything at all. on Molly tonight
& I am immersed in the song, I go to places.
when you are young you need as many horizons
as you can get, & the ones at home are never really
enough, Junot said—I launch myself into every
truck of magic, I open my ears, fly my curiosity.
it is summer now. it is winter away. it is spring
now. harmattan away. somebody asks
why all my poems are just about me missing
my mother, that is not enough. & I wanted
to bark, Golden One, there is no rosebush
in the marble cage, no glory in watching
your mother turn to twig, your hands there
by your side, unable, impossible. I miss you
mom. I miss you mom. I miss you mom. I miss
you mom. I miss you mom. I miss you mom. I
miss you mom. I miss you mom. if my grief
bores you, let the wind not, let the birds making
acapella in the cracked bone of time, the
hopper clicking, let the copper coins clinking on
the concrete floor not, let grief that wrestles
the mouth, fills it with moths & molten light
not be yours.
Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí is a writer and editor from Nigeria. His works have recently appeared/are forthcoming in AGNI, Joyland, No Tokens, Agbowó, Southern Humanities Review, The Minnesota Review, The McNeese Review, West Trade Review, among other places. He is a staff writer at Open Country Mag.