Instructions to the Three-Year Old Grandchild

by Fiyinfoluwa Timothy Oladipo

yes, I speak to you.
Never in your nimble mind ever stare
into the hollow thing
in the middle of another man’s eye
when he calls you by anything other than your first name.

Yes, I speak to you,
In the cynical instance where the efforts,
where the lights in the sky of our fathers
have dimmed to nothing more
than a continent trapped,
apologizing for its existence,
then this is what you do.

Yes, I still speak to you,
if irrationality becomes rational,
african becomes an apology,
then it is logical to speak to
a three-year-old.


Yes, remember the teddy bear,
that remains as your monument of childhood.
Tear out its hairs,
and bind their light strands
with your infinite supply of tears,
to show that you stand as a woman.

Yes, if you are bound neck down
by woven textures to your mother’s back,
captivated by the warmth of bondage,
then use your little hands,
to squeeze that ribcage
and grip your independence.

No, if your reddened gums
have become armed,
you are not to shoot,
you are to shout,
you are to speak,
as I speak to you.