Elegy for the city that has housed my
body since it’s birth, for the streets,
perfect carvers of who I would never want to be.

like seeking forgiveness, this city is always on
its knees, back bent into a sujūd, harbour
for every sin—done and yet to be done.

An artist. Carver of every innocent soul,
curvy smokes trapping lost voices, here,
mothers’ first language is curse, bilingual
—name for those who speak in the language
of shattering bottles on roadside gutters too.

there’s a different secret on everyone’s lips,
boys with lips burnt into soot black are more
chaste than those with pink scalding lips,
because to have fire on your tongue—is bad
but to swallow it—is worse.

like yesterday, today too starts with a traffic jam,
Nigeria’s fastest growing economy has
skeletons beneath its legs. A secret
everyone will hold in their nightmares
until            they            lose
A sister, A daughter to this city that
tucks livelihood between their legs.

Born in 2004, Olajuwon Abdullah Adedokun is a Muslim teenager who lives and writes in Lagos, Nigeria. He’s a 2020 Foyle Young Poet and winner of the Barjeel Poetry Prize.

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