You don’t know what it means to live unknown,
to smile in the market square as a stranger
haughtily spills your mother’s name on a pig’s head
and you become a boil on Miss World’s lips.
This is how a mangrove lives without prop roots:
a branch is starved until its pregnant leaves become
ghosts of IDPs walking backwards to Oloibiri Well 1.
def.: Oloibiri is the longing of a surrogate mum
e.g.: She died birthing crude oil for the outsiders.
You don’t know how it feels when a foe
owns your child and you bow calling him, Lord,
while your neighbours cut your neck with snail shells;
you can’t protest because your life’s a nursery rhyme
of CH4 NOx VOCs SO2 CO2 PAHs PCBs HFCs
and the other poisons that eat me away daily.
Author: Tim Fab-Eme
Tim Fab-Eme is an engineer and poet who experiments with poetic forms on environmental and social justice themes. He’s the Issue 7 poetry editor of Reckoning: Creative Writing on Environmental Justice, and Cove Park’s 2022 funded writer-in-residence on climate action. Tim loves exploring nature, gardening, and fishing in the mangrove swamps of his island home, Egun-Okom (Ogonokom). His work has appeared in The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, Magma, New Welsh Reader, About Place Journal, Reckoning: Creative Writing on Environmental Justice, Channel: Ireland’s Environmental Literary Journal; apt, Planet in Crisis Anthology, Deep Wild Journal: Writing from the Backcountry, Land and Territory Anthology, Delmarva Review, FIYAH, The Future of Black: An Afrofuturism & Black Comics Poetry Anthology, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, FU Review, The Maine Review, etc. His other projects center on the lore, myth, and experiences of marginalized folks and communities.
View all posts by Tim Fab-Eme