Motivated forgetting is a psychological defense mechanism whereby people cope with threatening and unwanted memories by suppressing them from consciousness.
—Amy N. Dalton and Li Huang
in Badagry there is a hung-
ry well of water and memory
loss. in Badagry there was a well
of people lost across a haven
of water. in Badagry there was
a port overwhelmed in un-return.
to omit within the mind is to ebb
heavenward. memory is a wealth
choking the brain in un-respons-
ibility. violence in the mind and
the mind forgets in order to remember
the self before the violence begot.
in Badagry trauma washes ungod-
ly memory heavenward. in Bad-
agry there is an attenuation well
meant to wish away a passage,
meant to unhaven a people.
violence is underwhelming
in return. what the body eats,
the mind waters. responsible
is the memory for un-remittal.
royal is the body for return. god is
the mind for wafting. forgetting
is a port homeward. in Bad-
agry hungry memory grows angry.
in Badagry the memories un-
choke. trauma un-eats the royal.
in Badagry there is a heaven
of people responsible for the birth-
right of remembering, for the well
of us across a haven of water
overwhelmed in un-return.
Copyright © 2020 by Porsha Olayiwola. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 17, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
land of buildings & no good manners land of sunless people & offspring of colonizers land of no spice & small pox land of fake flowers land of shackle & branches made of rope land of wire fences grabbing sky land that mispronounces my grief land that skins my other land that laughs when my people die & paints targets on my future children’s faces land that steals & says mine land that plants mines & says go back land that poisoned my mother & devoured her body land that makes my other language strange on my tongue land that stripped our saris & clips haloes to its flag land that eliminates cities land that says homeland security land that built the first bomb & the last land that killed my father & then sent back his body land that made me orphan of thee I sing.
From If They Come For Us: Poems (One World/ Random House, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Fatimah Asghar. Used with the permission of the poet.