my grandfather’s dentition looks like a bad floor tiling
but I love it.

my new routine is playing hide and seek
In the spaces between his 92 yr. old teeth.
I cling to the roof of his mouth when he flosses,
hoping to find his recipe for long-life.

at what age does life start cropping your growth?
telling you that henceforth progress is backwards;

a fast-forward in reverse
watching you slowly shrink back into helplessness
just like day one.

I watch my grandpa shave vigorously,
as if to prune his mistakes
as if to retrieve his youth
but how much of a repair can be done when a man’s
skin turns to velvet?

my grandfather now lives a velvet life
He has become a collage of stories
these days his mere breath is a blasphemy to death

and when he walks his body is a glass of trembling water.

this is what age must look like; ceramic
attempting to break but yet steady.

I want to help the earth carry the weight of my grandfather’s feet.
But I fear the depth of his memories would sink me.



Ofem Ubi is a poet, photographer and filmmaker, published in the Deep Dreams Anthology of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize, 2018. He is internationally published and his film Velvet was a selection for the Fringe of Color film festival, 2021.