More than once, I have cried for what’s gone.
Some nights, I wonder what happens to the dead
beneath the earth: my grandfather, his body resting
in one of the graves in this town where each morning
begins with a funeral. There are days heavy with grief,
I tell myself. Today, I do not know the bearing of my
life. I have wept for things that leave; people lost to
the tide of the world, relatives in exile. Days before
my grandfather’s death, I watched him wrestle for
breath in the hospital where we surrounded him,
our mouths crowded with prayers. In death,
he looked calm. I mean, the kind of calmness
only gifted to a newborn in sleep. I wonder how
sudden the transition from being alive to death.
Here on this earth, there are more dead that I can’t
count with my fingers: my grandfather, your grand-
mother, all the people we have mourned and yet to
mourn. More than once, I have wept for what’s gone.
In the despair of the world, I have walked deserted
streets on nights heavy with the longing for my dead.
Today, nothing matters anymore. The earth never aches
despite the dead beneath it. I have spent days hoping
that a miracle will lift my dead from their graves.
Each day arrives and disappears like my love for
the world. My grandfather is dead, and not even
my train of prayers can ferry him back to the
station of life. See me, I am dying in my grief.
I am longing for what will never return.
Rasaq Malik Gbolahan is a Nigerian poet. His chapbook, “No Home In This Land,” selected for Chapbook Box edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani has been published. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Lit Hub, Michigan Quarterly Review, Minnesota Review, New Orleans Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Rattle, Salt Hill, Spillway, Stand, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. He won Honorable Mention in 2015 Best of the Net for his poem “Elegy,” published in One. In 2017, Rattle and Poet Lore nominated his poems for the Pushcart Prize. He was shortlisted for Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2017. He was a finalist for the Sillerman First Book for African Poets in 2018.