wash between your toes by Teni Ayo-Ariyo
In wash between your toes, the speaker feeds us snippets of pain alongside those of hope, culminating in a collection of short pithy poems detailing loss, isolation, and ultimately, community.
Teni Ayo-Ariyo’s debut chapbook is awash in vibrant images of learning to be at home in the self—a self that finds comfort in her Yoruban ancestry yet is also searching for family, identity, love, and relief from a present that dominates a history that refuses to be forgotten: “i could die tomorrow / what that really means is, i can live today.” wash between your toes is a celebration of the electric breathtaking power embedded in the nuanced experiences of a Black immigrant woman living in America.
“wash between your toes is a gentle breeze, an aromatic balm, a prayer and meditation. It is proof that in between the chaos of life and the fears for our future, there is a hope stubbornly, definitively, defiantly lodged in our memories and in the things that we’ve already more than conquered. My soul was nurtured by these precious proclamations that all is well in all manner of things.”
-Alexus Rhone, artistic theologian, founder, Truth Meet Story, LLC
“Teni Ayo-Ariyo’s wash between your toes is a sweet reflective offering that is full of sincerity and vulnerability. The short musings on each page are beautiful snapshots of the discovery of oneself during the daily rituals of becoming. The chapbook can be a quick read since the poems are succinct and brief, however, each page deserves to be taken in slowly. Through her words, she invites us into an intimate view of life unfolding through seasons of joy and mourning, solitude and companionship. The honesty on the page opens the door for the reader to reflect on their own journey to self. wash between your toes invites us to slow down and to embrace the beautiful mundane things all around and within us that may hopefully lead us to confidently say, ‘I am mine.'”
-Khayla Deans, storyteller + creative director