Etymologies of a Miracle

By Obasa Funmilayo




fall into a house / lock yourself—



the key

but won’t open it.


the incense you inhale

is a sedative, soft—

perfumed with sweetness.




before you turn to dust, before you start to chant



you have fallen

into a house of sweet enslavement—

the key is with you

open it      &


don’t run forever!


remember why you fell:

to draw life from Eden,






“the space between a sermon &

the preacher’s righteousness can

be measured by mouth”

— Adebayo Aragau


your pastor chants all sorts

of tongues, in Jesus’ name.

your pastor sings all sorts

of serenades, in Jesus’ name.

hallelujah; your clothes lay on

the floor of his home. in God’s



the reverend is an arsonist —

your body is his prey.




a long sermon

takes you to church to worship

the man in a wedding dress,


you worship him,

you worship him

you worship him…


breathe, pant —

his hands are covered

in you.





you have decided that the faith you

swim in will be your lips and eyes,

but it is only a sojourner because

men have written that your celibacy

is for god, your rod is for god &

woman. so you enter a closet and play

the game of life: they ask, “do you prefer

to be burnt alive or gay?”

your lips shiver while it spills a river

of homophobia. on a sunday evening

you begin to confess your sins

to him; dancing to the groans and

moans you cry, as a leaf in the dark.

ennui: you are wrapped in chains.

ennui: you are lost ‘cause your

lover has jumped down a balcony

at the monastery.


“All you have is your fire

 And the place you need to reach…”

     —Hozier (Arsonist’s Lullaby)


Obasa Oluwafunmilayo is an upcoming Nigerian poet and photographer. With her words and photographs she paints images of her imaginative sentiment, political faults of her country and gender equality

Twitter @funmi796

Instagram @_obasafunmilayo

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