My Headstone Read, 'Beloved Daughter'

My Headstone Read, 'Beloved Daughter'
Published: Aug 08, 2014
"I died an unholy death, like it was my fault." A poem of darkness, eloquence and courage. Illustration by Roxanna Bikadoroff.

It was a summer evening
the breeze turned leaves
        into jellyfishes
ran across grasses
and I crushed blades
        beneath my feet
on my way to find love

Love pulled me
        by my crown
pinned my face
        to the rocky scales
of the baobab tree
        and yanked my skirt away

Ice wind rushed between my legs
my will, my freedom
        through my mouth
with every scream

He slammed away

till he released his poison

            inside of me
        its toxic glow
exploded through my veins

        till my heart

            became stone still

Crushed berries
        was my bed
dead leaves hugged
        my naked body
I could feel
        the sting
            of a thousand bees
between my legs
As the earth soaked up
        the slimy liquid
            dripping from my core.

“You woke the sleeping dragon with your giggle, love,” he said
                            I wanted to scream
“Don’t tell me it was my fault that your mind is a sink hole”
                        I came to find love
No one warned me that men had become wolves devouring
                    every beating heart
No one sent me a memo, or was it lost in the mail
                like my soul
I wanted to scream, but my cords
            had lost the will for words
I watched him
        zip up the murder weapon. He laughed
his laughter flew ahead of his thirsty boots
    as he beat a path away
from my bartered soul

I died      that summer evening
My headstone read
        “Beloved daughter, she loved berries”
I was buried deep
    on a wasted land
        with no berry tree
the priest said
        I died an unholy death, like
            it was my fault
That no one saw that
    I died, long before
        I became dead

The world asked me to speak,
                       I said
Words are
    dogs without bites
        bees without stings
            kings without crowns
Words can’t describe
    the injustice 
        that has been dealt
            to my very soul

Words would buy you justice,
                         they said
I told them, I came
        from a line of novelty
a city of
        virgin maidens, frail fairies,
        white hills and red mountains.
A vast land of
        berries graced upon by
        scarce and pure like
But what has been taken from me
        is my life with my soul
        ripped from its root
        can not
        bring me back

I had only one word
        left in me:
            Rest,  rest,  rest.
It means
            final rest;
but to the world it meant
            forever lost.




1. What is your first memory and what does it tell you about your life at that time and your life at this time?

I remember being in a room all day with my brothers, just drumming and singing. I was happy at the time, I had no worries. Today many things in life worry me, but I can chill, listen to music, and go back to that time when the world was normal, and for a short period, everything became still.

2. Can you name a handful of artists in your field, or other fields, who have influenced you — who come to mind immediately?

Wole Soyinka, Nancy Drew, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sarah Perry, John Paul O'Neill, Peter Khan, Ikenna Onyegbula, Inua Ellams.

3. Where did you grow up, and did that place and your experience of it help form your sense about place and the environment in general?

I grew up in Ibadan, Nigeria. The experience taught me a lot; I lived among the rich, the middle class, and the poor. This is what we have in all societies and I have learned to merge the lines and find a place in between.

4. If you were going away on a very long journey and you could only take four books — one poetry, one fiction, one non-fiction, one literary criticism  — what would they be?

Poetry, The Making of a Poem; non-fiction, Gifted Hands; fiction, Beyond Pardon.

5. What was your most keen interest between the ages of 10 and 12?

Performing a one-woman show where I was the act and the audience.

6. At one point did you discover your ability with poetry?

I would say it was at age 11, my first year in secondary school, when I was properly introduced to poetry in the literature class.

7. Do you have an ‘engine’ that drives your artistic practice, and if so, can you comment on it?

The desire to find someone who thinks like I think is the engine of my artistic practice; of always having a pen and paper on me so that I can catch any thought that comes floating in my mind, and later find someone who relates to it.

8. If you were to meet a person who seriously wants to do work in your field — someone who admires and resonates with the type of work you do, and they clearly have real talent — and they asked you for some general advice, what would that be?

I'll tell them to never doubt themselves, to enjoy the process and continue to find ways to grow. Talent needs sharpening, and a lot of work, to be outstanding.

9. Do you have a current question or preoccupation that you could share with us?

At what point do people learn to hate, to see colours, gender, race, class — and other things that make the world a diverse universe?

10. What does the term ‘wild culture’ mean to you?

‘The wild’ to me means nature in its original state. Culture is a way of life. I therefore perceive ‘wild culture’ to be the marriage of nature and its ways, and the understanding of the operations of nature in its original state — without alteration, censorship or pollution.

11. If you would like to ask yourself a final question, what would it be?

It would be, ”Am I doing enough for my writing?"




FIKAYO BALOGUN blogs at and performs at a number of poetry scenes. She has a Masters degree in Creative and Professional Writing from Roehampton University, and currently lives and works in the UK.

ROXANNA BIKADOROFF is a widely-published illustrator, painter and writer on esoterica. She lives in Vancouver.


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