Ask the broken boy to dance, & he says | by Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni


to how my chest swells with the lack of air. 
I am gasping. I am gasping to fill the gap in my breath, 
but the song is in the air. 

Once, a bird drew its breath & danced, the air inside it a song. 
What has become of the butterflies I felt? 
The bursting cocoons as the song flowed through me & I poured like wine? 

Is it still a miracle if wine returns to water? 

Because to become is to lose a self, 
nothing of me remains like the rain is lost to its falling. 

Do you remember the bird? 

The song left it, bursting through its feathers. 
A single falling note of a bird forsaken by its wings. 

& now the lyric has left me, 
but to remember the song is not the song itself
—my nostalgia a singing after the song ends. 

to how the song makes a scar of you, 
offering the softness of yourself to an alter that cuts. 

This song caused the darkness. / This song, a light in the darkness. / They say this song has killed me once. / They say love will kill me, / again & again.  / Once, twice, thrice broken / dead. dead. dead. dead. dead. dead. 

Will you dance with an abiku—a boy who could die before the song ends?

& you say, all I asked is if you would dance with me, 
if you would take my hand?

& he says, did you not hear me? / Did you not hear all that love does? / Did you not hear the prayers whispered / by the boy whose body the song dissolved: 

Hail Beauty, full of pain. The thorn is with thee. 
Blessed are you 	and blessed is the fruit of thy wound. 
Holy beauty, mother of songs, pray for us lovers 
now and at the hour of our dying. 


& you say, come with me. / Come with me into the bright of a burning place. / The flame is proof no one else will come—this dancefloor, / empty without us. / If it could not leave you scalded, / they would all give their hands. / If the song could not leave you emptied, / its lyrics would linger on their lips / & you take my hand, / saying live, be beautiful with me, if only briefly, dance. / Dance with me. 

& you dance.

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni is a genre-bending writer whose poetry was shortlisted for the 2019 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize. He is a reader at The Masters Review and is currently making attempts at beauty while applying for a citizenship in Lucille. Twitter and Instagram @obafemithanni. Website