I gave my country a home in my chest.
With my first cry and my father's signature,
I stamped my mark into its soil,
& clothed myself with the flag
that chooses when to recognize me.
The bones of my country are meatless, stripped
bare. They say I should not believe in my country;
abandon all hope, all ye who enter here
That my country will wrap itself around the sharp
edges of my fear & commit to the plunge.
They say my country will count my disappointment
like notches on a bedpost: here violence, here poverty,
here inequality. Here, power that corrupts, here, terrorism
& a thousand candles to light for all my fallen people.
Where were you before grief found you?
In my country's belly, seeking the leftovers of my kin.
Where were you before hope found you?
At my country's borders, one foot held over the line—praying
that the seeds of my yesterday, finally become
petals in the sun.
*Second runner-up: 2023 Valiant Scribe Poetry Competition
Fatima Abdullahi is a Nigerian writer, poet and photographer. A lover of books and quiet corners, she believes firmly in the power of storytelling in all mediums and how it can be used to shape lives, and uses her works to explore the dynamics of love, loss, hope and memory. Her works have been published in a variety of platforms, including: Dark Matter Magazine, Lunaris Review, The Decolonial Passage, Libretto Magazine, The Last Stanza Poetry Journal, The Poetry Nook, The Best of Africa Journal, EboQuills Literary, Arkore Writes and more. She tweets @solitarywriter_