Transatlantic [Heartbreak] Love

Idowu Odeyemi


“All love stories are frustration stories.”

—Adam Phillips


to cross water; for the wrights bird not to sex the sea with your black body; to not be swallowed by the sea; to step your foot on the preconceived land of milk and honey; for grotesque dogs not to sniff for your body; i thank the universe. the sea hangs distance between us & water, stilling water, has no knowledge how much love fades when a boy comes to the riverbank to watch the moon since the moon is the only object two distance-lovers can see together. from across the many waters between us, you emailed me about the failure of pronunciation among americans: no one calls your name—Araoluwa—without feeling betrayed by their tongue. i am in awe of how many times you survived the feeling of america’s soil wanting to swallow your black body every time you called hunger anger. but it is not you: it is your mother anchoring the duties of your tongue—it is a disservice to leave home and forget how it built you. deserts exist because they couldn’t find longing sweet like waters do—deserts exist because rivers die of thirst. our hearts un-board themselves, just like water did to desert, from the plane of love in bits small enough to disappear in a thread. i remember (y)our story: one night while you thought about me, a boy with blue eyes walked up to you and told you love is nearness. & you told me no one deserves to live with the memory of loss & I should obliviate our history, of all the times our noses collided & seeing you makes the moon hover around my head. you told me becoming/remaining void is better than hurting. you told me erasure is the first principle of oblivion. you didn’t tell me: oblivion is the path towards emptiness. & in the experience of love: love excludes pains, love includes pain.


Idowu Odeyemi is a 21-year-old M.A candidate, poet, and essayist. His poem Love Only Kills a Poor Boy won Liverpool’s 2019 Merak Magazine annual literary recognition award. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Nigerian Students Poetry Prize. His works have appeared or forthcoming on Brittlepaper, perhappened magazine, Blue Marble Review, Serotininpoetry, Door is a Jar, Punocracy, Icefloepress, Constellate Magazine, among many others. He works for perhappened magazine and Chestnut Review as a Reader.