To my Nephew, Who Just Turned 13 (Letter to Teenage Version of Myself) and Other Poems

 
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D.M. Aderibigbe

Art by Zoe Pettijohn Schade

 
 

TO MY NEPHEW, WHO JUST TURNED 13 (LETTER TO TEENAGE VERSION OF MYSELF)

We both know that our mother’s face
Carries as much heat as calm.

We both know that—
If wrongly rubbed—
Even the softest
Of hearts turns to brick.

Take this moment for instance:
After she’s just told you
Not to step out of your room,
You’re fastening up your shoelaces.

Truth is: A mother’s love
Is a cozy house
In the dead of winter
Or the German Shepherd
That runs you out of it.

Truth is,
If you can’t be her heir,
Then learn to be the air.

 
 

DANCE FLOOR

A woman stretches her hand.
A man rises
From his seat and takes
The hand. She leads the way
And soon, like the others
Already on the dance floor,
They are covered in music:
Face in face, chest on chest.
The woman is suddenly betrayed
By her shoe.
She wears her hands
On her right ankle like a bandage.
The music keeps streaming
Out—Not a single face strays
From the one they’re dancing
With. The man has taken
Another woman’s hand.
I’m on my feet—
My drink, half-finished.
Don’t make this what it’s not.
The woman beside me says.
We are only here for fun.

 
 

ENGLISH (Even the air)

 
 
 

The Looted Are Our Ancestors

In a display case in museum in London
museum in New York


Stolen stories
Identity, history.


Objects of admiration were objects containing
Information.


The artifacts —known as Benin Bronzes.


Note:
An erasure poem based on the New York Times article “In the West, the Looted Bronzes Are Museum Pieces. In Nigeria, they are our Ancestors.” Published June 23, 2021.

 

Spring / Summer 2024



D.M. Aderibigbe

D.M. Aderibigbe is from Lagos, Nigeria. His debut book of poems How the End First Showed (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018) won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and a Florida Book Award, and was the finalist for Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poets. He’s the recipient of a 2022-2023 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commision. He’s also received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference (Walter E. Dakin Fellowship), The James Merrill House, OMI/Ledig House, Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, Ucross Foundation, Jentel Foundation, The Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and Boston University where he earned his MFA in creative writing. His poems appear in The Nation, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, jubilat, New American Writing, among others. After earning a B.A. in history from the University of Lagos in 2014, D.M. came to the United States for graduate studies a year later. He received his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and his Ph.D. in creative writing from Florida State University. He’s currently an assistant professor of creative writing in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.



Zoe Pettijohn Schade

Zoe Pettijohn Schade's paintings have been featured in solo exhibitions at Kai Matsumiya and in group shows at carriage trade, White Columns (all in NY), the ICA Boston, the 14th Shanghai Biennale (2024), and the deCordova New England Biennial (2019). Schade was awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright U.S. Research Scholars Grant to Paris to work with 18th century paintings for textiles, which culminated in a solo exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center in Paris. She is the recipient of a Blanche E. Colman Award administered by Bank of New York Mellon (2020). Schade lives and works in Boston and is represented by Kai Matsumiya Gallery, NY.



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