Poetry

For My Country: Three Poems by Joseph Omoh Ndukwu

Image: Miranda Kellems via Flickr

Image: Miranda Kellems via Flickr

OUR COUNTRY’S FORM

Our country began to take form
Like a child showing his hands in sunlight
And my grandmother is growing old
Silent and full of age, a library full of unopened wisdom
She saw her country begin to take form, making watermarks in her pages
Now these pages are only a few wrinkles old
But the watermarks have found permanence in undying seasons

Now I wander here, a man in free verse
Learning to see the people and how the sun arranges itself between their teeth and smiles
Like a photographer arranging an unruly crowd for the photograph of the ages
But now, why does it matter that I remember?
Her naira notes falling from the knot in her wrapper
A monument of our past hunger and future ones

Now, I wander here, a man in tired smiles
And see a people bend towards the shapes of many things
Holding up many things in the air: ballot papers, the imams’ robes, Bibles and bells, work boots, hoes, petrol gallons
Our own quivering emblems of pride and nation

Now, I wander here and see a people bend towards hope

Does it matter that my grandmother is growing old and her watermarks not so much?

Our country begins to take form
Like a child showing his hand in sunlight

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ELECTION DAY

A people arrange themselves behind each other
The ballot box is first in the queue
They are searching for their President
Who lost him?

A man prays by the street, tears in his eyes:
‘My God
O my God
It’s been fifty-five years
And these my sores would not heal.’

Tomorrow, he would learn to smile with caution
When he hears that a president has been found

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MOTHER AND CHILD

We were bold and we held our country in our hands
And the world spat at us that we should be so young and yet so proud

I saw a mother feed her baby, touch his pink so tenderly.
She learned to love him for nothing, wanting nothing but his smile and his innocence
And he loved her back

I walked away, learning how to love my country
One tenderness placed on top another

How dare we reverse roles?
we are only tiny children in the skirt of our country.

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Poems © Joseph Omoh Ndukwu
Image: Miranda Kellems via Flickr

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