in the religion native to west africa’s yorùbáland, olóòkun is the owner of all oceans.
depicted with varying gender presentations both in yorùbáland and throughout the diaspora, olóòkun is also the protector of africans who were carried away during the maafa, the happening known to african-americans as the trans-atlantic slave trade.
an interview with olóòkun.
white person asks me what my pronouns are and king leopolds my body into parts.
asks me if i recognize my people’s viscera.
asks me to give these gendered phantom limbs a name that will not trip up the master’s throat.
when my tongue refuses,
answers “nigga” like upcycled oppression;
like the whip in my hand;
i remember that even the ways i can call out to this flesh map have been colonized.
that this block has been long gentrified.
white person asks me what my pronouns are and i wonder what it is to pray for the fields of these
bones without a kokou marching out of my mouth.
i wonder what it is to deny the addict both their substance and their absolution.
to say “the veins of my people carry palm wine and ocean water.”
that “this is the reason our joy lies just beneath our sorrow.”
that “this survival is a revolution and not an accident.”
white person asks me what my pronouns are and turns all the seashells into caskets.
something with a hardness that keeps their ravenous jowls from the meat.
or something to split open and empty into their pockets.
or something to quiet the ghosts of their guilt.
white person asks me what my pronouns are, so ṣàngó awakens and we evict them together.
chase them through the sugar cane and cotton prisons they thought could hold òrìṣà.
throw them out of their own front gates.
harvest the sweetness and softness they bled me for.
make an offering of my molasses skin and adorn my own altar.
eat yams until my gender is edo again;
until “they” shreds “he” and “she” into “așǫ oke.”
call the new land “nigga.”
share the crop with no one.