Poem in response to Zero Hunger
February 2018
By Mofe Akinyanmi
CC Image courtesy of Wayne S. Grazio

you learn to ignore it.

the rumble in your gut

the silent plea from your stomach for food

the craving slowly consumes you

and there’s no way to satiate it

you can count your ribs without an x-ray

your collarbones are an empty pool

your eyes are sunken, like craters, in your face

your jaw is like a weapon, threatening to cut you

your mind is filled to the brim with memories of food

the plantains your mother used to fry

with a bit of sugar and salt on top

the tender goat meat inside the savory red tomato stew that you could smell cooking a mile a way and instantly your mouth would salivate in anticipation.

the light airy puff-puff that you never ate often, but you still mourned it anyways,

but she’s gone.those harmless mosquito bites that you never thought could do great harm

were the reason why malaria over

came herand before you could accept that reality

she was gone.

your father was non existent.

as you bounced from relative to relative, none of them could afford another child.

you ran away from the last one, who beat you with a switch of palm wood.

that your mother never would’ve done.

she loved you too much to ever hurt you just for a mistake, she’d say.

after running away, you had no one left.

your home was an alley, near the big streets.

your possessions weren’t much to marvel at.

a ragged blanket, a shirt covered in marks and some shorts with a hole in the side.

each day, you walked the streets, praying to god you could have something to eat.

‘please ma, could you spare some money for a starving child?’

‘please sir, god blesses those who give.’

but no one ever listened.

they continued on with their lives,

rolling up the windows on their motorized private bubbles,

averting their eyes and frowning, as if you were

invisible.

you sometimes wondered if you could go on.

the strength began to seep from your body.

the occasional morsel from the trash was not enough.

the dirty water from the streets could not quench your thirst.

each day, you lost another part of your self.

you could barely remember who you used to be.

all you remember from that last moment is the pain going away.

it seemed to float from your body,

like the fog rose from the lagoon each morning.

and suddenly i wasn’t there anymore

and i ended up here.

I don’t know where I am.

I don't know what this place is.

but all that matters is here,

the agony of hunger is no more

and I’m free.

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