It was dinner time in my house and like the last supper,
It was to be accompanied with news of dread,
In pictures of red, black and white.
The humming of the television came on and
Therein we had the slide show of death’s art come on.
Of pictures painted somewhere in Borno, where indigenes lent their blood for red oil paint
And their bodies for canvases, as death took weapons for brushes
And painted sorrow, pain and death.
We saw a picture of a mangled child with body parts scattered around,
Like the components of a dismantled motor van; death was like Theodore Gericault
Painting the Anatomical Pieces.
Next came on a heap of bodies soaked in blood and mud; smelling of death and the grave;
And death was like Peter Paul Rubens painting the Massacre of the Innocent.
The next picture was of the streets of Borno flowing with the bodies of her sons and daughters
Who once toiled the lands but now serve as manure to the very seeds they sowed;
Death was like Pieter Bruegel the Elder painting the Triumph of Death.
The humming of our TV stopped and we finished our dinner in silence knowing deep down
That it could be our last supper and another family would eat their dinner
Watching an art exhibition, where we lent our elements to be used.
But until then…we live, in mockery of death.
SINGLE TO STUPOR
Stare through the showcase
Stay ogling, wide-eyed, long faced
It is the price you’re paying
The heart is a china shop
And you’re the bull, non-stop
Seeing but not seeing
You are feeling but not sensing
Stare through the blindfolds
See dancing hearts of gold
See June’s roses bloom
See lads turn grooms
See cold flames go wild
See Ma love her child
Hearts thumping; horses racing
Blood rushing; ice breaking
You, the only one left wanting.
We circled round my mother on her sickbed
To hear her final verdict concerning our destinies.
With my father clutching her hand, as if to tell the cancer “leave my wife be I still need
her body warmth.”
My mother lay there, shriveled, and succumbing to its seductions and ravaging
With my father trying hard to salvage her from its sultry lips.
But mother has made her choice and she has decided to go with the seducer.
It promised her a place without sorrows and bombings, without pains and aching.
My mother said to us:
“Live a triangular life; church, school and the grocery store.
Carry out the chores in a circular motion; let it rotate amongst you,
Let no one be lazy and let everyone’s work be squared away before dinner daily.
Your father remains the apex of our pyramid, accord him due respect.
When I die, steal my soul and put in the cylindrical jar on the top shelf in the parlour;
Knowing I’ll always be right by, watching over you.”
Poetry ©Nnamdi Laura
Image: Pixabay.com remixed