WHAT THE NOSE MASK MEANS IN MY COUNTRY (a poem by Akin-Ademola Emmanuel)

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My grandmother tells me there's no virus prowling here
She says Ọ̀rúmìlà didn't ask her to Shroud her face & seize
Her breath,
Nor did Ọbatálá wear one while he sculpted creations
She says there are only tongues with lies incised in
Them & there—one of the things that bogged us
Into mire situations. That every song of poor mothers
Has two verses—an imprecation for democracy's
Bearded reptiles & an elegy
For dying sons & daughters who have taken heavy
Dosages of hunger.
Grandmother was taken to the hospital two weeks
Later & like Solomon Grundy, she died on a Saturday
& was buried on a Sunday—
When her face was sullen with grief & as she sneezed
The wards didn't allow me close to her, there I became
The cry of a new born child. I only heard these words
Of my grandmother who never lied— "I am not positive
They didn't take care of me so I can be the lie who
Feeds the belly of the government."
Then a doctor lured me into a corner with a horror-striken
Face & said "AwóbÍìyí, I couldn't do much because they
Didn't allow me, your mother only had pneumonia..."

Akin-Ademola Emmanuel is a Nigeria-born writer who uses literature as a tool to stir souls toward critical issues. His works have appeared in Kalahari Review, Nantygreens, Active Muse, Communicators League and elsewhere.

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