We only tell black stories to the night

A Poem

By Iyanu Adebiyi

even the darkness deserted us

but we who murdered our gods to be here are here
we formed a circle in battle formation and collapsed into a dot

show up every day at courage’s muster point garbed in
iron-skin because the melanin has turned to poison again

the noise in the air these days is to prove that we too are here
deserve to be here intend to be here as long as we are here

someday there shall be no need to walk with hands up
in our own fatherland no need to pay death as taxes

no need to store coffins between our thighs in case of anything
that dies forcing its way into our bodies our black blood rebels

for fear of the day we will forget how to draw breath yet be
perfect at drawing false eyebrows and flawless contours

the safest place to build home is not in the mask of a face-beat nor in the
powder of skeletons crumbling down nor in the glossy puss coming out

of rotting wounds nor in the shadow of darkness beneath the sunlight
of what we were meant to be the safest place is the softness of a womb

to be prepared to be reborn as many times as it takes to meet the pain
to fight for freedom to flag down to doom anything that threatens our existence

even the darkness


About this poem:

In May 2019, 7 of an estimated 70 women narrated how they were arrested and raped by policemen, using pure water sachets as condoms, in Abuja. They spoke anonymously with their backs turned to the light and the press. I wrote this poem for them, for all of us.