‘The Outing’ by Yomi Sode

Onlookers witnessed your wrath that night
how your fist rose to the heavens,

striking down as if Ṣango[1] lived within you.
Thirty going on thirty-one. I wasn’t sure what to say.

I’ve never been here.
The papers described him as tall.

They said his neck broke before he landed
as if his body was a slinky, waiting

for the rest of him to hit the ground.
Witnesses recall you bloodied and exhausted,

looking at your swollen knuckles saying
what did I do? repetitively

as if you were a toy wound for entertaining.
Uncle Elijah believes mental health is a western thing

He says back home, elders would out those who were cursed
and banish them from the village. I sit with you, old friend.

We break silence with passive laughs as if we were sat
with our fathers. Then silence again.

[1] ṢangoKing of the orisha pantheon, rules over thunder, fire, drumming, dancing and male virility. He is one of the most worshipped orishas in the pantheon and his legends are numerous and speak to the human experience.

(previously published in The Rialto, issue 87, Autumn 2016)

Yomi Sode balances the fine line between Nigerian and British cultures, which can be humorous, loving, self-reflective and, at times, uncomfortable. Over the past nine years, Yomi has had work commissioned by The Mayor’s Office, BBC World Service/ BBC Africa, Channel4, various charities and recently presented a poem at the UN Humanitarian Summit. Twitter: @YomiSode