EVERY DAY I watch them walk back home

wet with the smell of the market,

trays balanced on their heads.

It will rain. It will not. The truth is here:

nothing prepared us for the moment when

their bones shivered like lovers ready to part from each other.

By the door they peel off their dirty skins

and compare history and money.

In another room in this house filled with rooms,

another woman walks into the arms of ten children;

we will hear the sound of hunger in the music of tongues.

Until you are there you will never know how the ground breaks bones,

how bodies search for seeds only to find the ground mocking them.

Mother will gather us into her bosom and tell my sister to bring down

the tray, from it she will take the bread and say, this is my body, Eat,

she will pass the cup and say, Drink of me and be filled.

At night when the stars are singing of paradise,

we will lie still and listen to her cry in the dark.


Romeo Oriogun’s “No 4. Marina Street” first appeared in the Art Naija Series anthology, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations, edited by Otosirieze Obi-Young and introduced by Rotimi Babatunde.



ROMEO ORIOGUN is the 2017 winner of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. His manuscript, My Body Is No Miracle, was a finalist for the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. His chapbook, The Origin of Butterflies, was published in 2018 by Akashic Books and African Poetry Book Fund. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Brittle Paper, ExpoundLAMBDA, Afridiaspora, and African Writer, among others. He is the author of Burnt Men, an electronic chapbook published by Praxis Magazine Online, and was a Fellow of Ebedi International Writers Residency.