Birthday

Oluwaseun Olayiwola

with Louise Gluck’s “First Memory”

 

 

There - the floor holds them as memories from long ago. Air’s cool as a doorknob 

grabbed, a lunchbox I can’t seem to release. I must 

 

be happy, I was celebrating the smile of youth, but the smile was wounded

like cattle locked up behind endless doors. I lived – 

 

beef and all its nutrients. Boobs and bald heads 

to make good. Jacket buttons and revenge

 

zips, precise – behind the doors, mirrors; myself

in the rags of the female Surrealists. Black 

 

against white, my war colors – chosen by my blended softness. 

Say to me, like father, like son and I'll repeat back: like father, 

 

not like anything here in this house for years. That thing 

between you, what looks like a knife, is a cake answer. 

 

He knows this, he cuts with it.  He was cutting with no aim–

pink balloons, blue winds pining for shame. Shape of sadness

 

defined by skin-edges, indivisible, slated to carry what disguises.

I see the frills, the black floor-bound angel-dog. Was it not pictured? 

 

Was it not wincing from the beginning?

 

The birthday scene’s set sadly, as of time looking at a boy 

massacred. In childhood, the motivations: sweets, fun, not loss. I was different

 

without choice, I thought - I think. Unmagical hands imagine that pain

when I owned reality. Pain meant growth, which is to say

 

I can’t run forward, my body was, is, particular,

of particles, uncapturable, not loved on screen. That day - 

 

a ghost’s headache. It bothers me. At first it meant,

I was older. I had lived. I was safe. I

 

slump now, fall heavily through windows

garlanded. I’m pierced – they were born, they are loved.

Oluwaseun Olayiwola is a dancer, choreographer and poet living in London. He’s currently earning his Master of Fine Arts in Choreography at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a 2018-19 Fulbright Scholar to the institution. His current works, choreographic and poetic, deal with themes of childhood, love, and darkness.