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Olubunmi Oni | Swamp Things

A single firefly flutters by her shoulder, as if unaware of her presence, as it glides to meet its kin on the pond. Moonlight barely reaches the sharp features of her face, her large body sitting quietly on a large branch of a tree that overlooks the pond. The summer wind wraps around her, caressing her legs like a lover, her arms like a friend, and she breathes it in like love. The deep affection of solitude spread through her chest like warmth as her mind mimicked the water before her in its stillness.


Darla sits here often, as it is a fundamental part of her self-soothing. If tomorrow the world ended, and she somehow survived, she would sit on this branch and watch the fireflies, the whining of their wings mingling with the kissing of the wind that comforts her body. Her mind was quiet in a way that she believed nature thoroughly appreciated.

In her house, the quiet was sometimes excruciatingly loud, and the noise was the only time people were really quiet. Her parents never said what they meant or what they wanted and her brother always said exactly what he meant. And even then, Darla knew he never said all of it, his small outbursts were only the tip of the iceberg. Even now, with her legs swinging under the branch on which she perched, she felt part of her was gone in his absence. Even when she feels as if she were soluble with every surface, unseen and never felt, Landon was the gust of air that reminded her that she was with him, and she was fully seen and felt.

Sometimes Landon told her to “stack a platypus”, which Darla could not explain, even if she was verbal. In those moments, one of his hands would first lie on top of hers, and he would utter something unusual. It was up to Darla to dictate whether it was possible or not, the affirmation of its possibility followed by her hand stacked on top of his until he thought of another unusual scenario. Lastly, if Darla thought it to be impossible, Landon spelt out the word platypus, and Darla would clap out in tempo with a toothy grin. Their mother always called their games special and interesting, though her silence when Landon asked her what she meant said everything she really meant. Their father found it funny that no one really won or lost the game, to which Landon said “You both are the losers because you never play with us.”

Darla’s eyes follow her head as she turns to meet her twin’s eyes as he ambles through the brush to get to where she is perched.

“Don’t know how you always get up there, all high up.” His voice projects far more than she thinks is necessary, so she puts a finger to her lips.

He huffs. “Alright, alright, I know the drill.” He stands under her tree branch and catches one of her ankles, listening to the wind touching the branches and the leaves, moving through the scene like a finger over the water. He breathes in heavily as if he were breathing in pond water, the quiet filling his blood and cooling it enough for him to hum his favourite song. It was something he had made up when they were children, and there were no words to match the melody. His locs made contact with her calf, and Darla felt the faint vibrations from his head and smiled. Darla simply nodded along, his deep voice carrying into the night, the fireflies dancing along to the tune.


Image: DavidCohen Unsplash remix

Olubunmi Oni
Olubunmi Oni
Olubunmi Oni is a woman in STEM who fell in love with the body in more ways than one. Focusing on embodied experiences, she attempts to pin words to sensations and situations that follow her as a black woman with tongue-in-cheek humor, biting wit, and emphatic volume. Olubunmi, she/her, IG: poeuhms

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