the routine or perhaps a rite of remembrance

by Praise Osawaru

every morning, the boy awakens to the sight of a kneeling mother, cramming the air with peculiar croons. she counts the beads of a necklace—as if to say it’s a rosary / misbaha—like a kid counts the seconds before the closing bell rings. a stool before her hosts a monochrome of grandfather, in which his face ripens with a grin, & beads snake his neck, resting on unwrinkled clothes. this unnamed routine lingers for the stretch of days / months / years. often, the boy forgoes his sleep, knees osculating the surface of the chilled, tiled floor. hums in unison with mother & grapples a mental image of a man whose passing ensued his tenth birthday. like the embrace of the night’s wintry chill, he feels a touch on his forehead. & he swears it could be grandfather reaching from the other side, or perhaps his spirit never departed. still, he bottles his words in a chamber within. mother says: we remember people whose life had meaning to us. the boy nods, but inside, a windstorm topples & upturns everything in its path. & he ponders if his mother’s remembrance is a metaphor for not letting go.


Praise Osawaru (he/him) is a writer and poet of Bini descent. A Best of the Net nominee, his works appear or are forthcoming in Glass Poetry, The Hellebore, Ice Floe Press, Kalahari Review, Kissing Dynamite, and elsewhere. He’s a 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist, Babishai 2020 Haiku Award and 2020 Nigerian Students Poetry Prize shortlistee, and a recipient of the NF2W Poetry Scholarship. He’s a prose reader for Chestnut Review and he’s on Instagram/Twitter @wordsmithpraise.

The Roadrunner Review nominated “the routine or perhaps the rite of remembrance” for The Nina Riggs Poetry Award.