LETTERS FROM MY CHILDHOOD

by Ojo Taiye
009: TENDER

with an excerpt from AFTER MY DEATH / A MUTABLE DECISION

a performance by INDIRA ALLEGRA

after Connie Post

affection: my mother taught me the meaning. how easily our bodies yield under its
barbs, each prick stirring up past tense as the day wears its lipstick & heaves
forward. as a child, it’s the plight of my mother that I endured, attached to a broken
man, hand in hand, in an impassive monochrome, slanted against the deck in the
parlor. there’s no difference between loving & thinking you would be loved, until
solitude is a pomegranate seed spilling its red on your feast—all night long I walk
into the mouth of my childhood siesta. it’s her first time out of bed since the
assault—her peaceful face dappled with the switchblades of my father’s claw—& I
understood what I was becoming—a flood, a feline beast hiding in the dark— those
intolerable times she scratched hard at death’s gate. what crime had she
committed? they call it woman & I know better. for months, I kill my father in my
dreams & the house stinks of winter’s falling spurs, the way my hands reach out for
the names of old loves: I’m sorry if you are still reading this, I am tired of violence,
the history of silence littered with the chorus of hope; my skin contracting
underneath a beam of sun as women in borrowed fleece laugh in another room. I
open my mouth & say it again: I don’t want my sorrow to be this pretty—days bleed
into years of beatings followed by her body lying lifeless in the shallow grave of a
fault line. I need to tell the crows. I am missing my mother everywhere. the air
between still holds the geometry of our dreams, the symmetry where the lines on
our palms meet. my small heart pulsing, its roar, the weight of a cathedral I can no
longer bear. nothing breaks open like this chasm passed down to every poem I
write: her eyes perfectly still in the good room of our old house. what’s this thing
about love that my mother felt the need to hold one in her clammy hands?


AFTER MY DEATH / A MUTABLE DECISION

You’ve received the diagnosis. The money is gone. The relationship is over. You’ve surrendered to some loss which has happened, but how do you make decisions to reconstruct your life? To feel that you are living again? After My Death/A Mutable Decision is an exploration of the liminal space which indecision creates as ideas take form, dissolve, and find new shapes as we move through our losses.

Indira Allegra


OJO TAIYE writer

Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian artist who uses poetry as a tool to hide his frustration with society. He also makes use of collage and sample technique. He is the winner of many prestigious awards, including the 2021 Hay Writer’s Circle Poetry Competition, and the 2021 Cathalbui Poetry Competition, Ireland.

INDIRA ALLEGRA artist

Indira Allegra is deeply informed by quiet, inner lives and animacies, and the ritual, relational, and performative aspects of weaving. As a conceptual artist and recognized leader in the field of performative craft, they take weaving off the loom and use it as a framework to explore connections between seemingly disparate experiences and the repetitive crossing of social forces held under tension. Their work has been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design, the Arts Incubator in Chicago, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, the Center for Craft Creativity and Design, and the Museum of the African Diaspora among others. Allegra’s writing has been featured in TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture, American Craft Magazine, Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought, Cream City Review, and HYSTERIA Magazine among others. They have been the recipient of numerous awards including the Burke Prize, Gerbode Choreographer Award, and Eureka Fellowship.

AFTER MY DEATH / A MUTABLE DECISION (excerpt) (2021): Performance. Running time 00:59 sec. Video: Nicholas Bruno.

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