Close to Nature
The sun shines through a mist,
a golden ball through the fresh dew
when men in the sunset
in worlds of marble and steel
prepare to sleep.
On warm bamboo beds we lie
awaken with the fresh morning
and learn to balance earthenware
vessels on our trained heads
as we head to streams
where naked children bathe and play.
In tranquility and calm, we hurry not
looking up at the elements
to tell the time of day,
while men beyond speed away at jet
speed to meet loads of duties.
Close to nature, our minds
remain impressionable, like the soft
sandy earth around our round huts;
engraved on them are footprints
of the child and the lamb
and the little carefree chicks.
We learn from nature
and grow at the steady and sure pace
of the stately iroko tree
and watch our dark reflections
on pristine springs of rocky coolness.
The sky hangs heavy with dark clouds
As strong winds blow on rooftops
Twisting trees and throwing dust…
The women…children run for shelter
Some cursing under their breath
At this impudent interference of nature
For it often means lean bellies…
The sky was white and with ease
Vivid lines ran across from end to end
As elixirs to soothe a laden heart
The emotions of clouds build up
And the sky grows darker and darker
Men scurry as hens to find light
To stay in the dark and unburden
The weary heart that yearns for solace
Then the downpour descends as smoke
Ascends, luminous flame to illuminate
A dark world of wailing hearts…
And the drumming builds in intensity
And drowns the sound of the world
The lines run faster across, defying the
Unrhythmic drumming and pounding
And the straining of alert watchmen
Soon, over, and stiff joints creak
Figures straighten to gaze at a clearer
Sky no longer pent-up but bright as day
The day before the groaning and longing
Heavy with cloud-birth and foreboding
And the brightness snuffs out the flame
The curly strings of beads rise in defiance
To descend no more on a world
Of whites and lines and running streams
Of released pent-up burdens of emotions
And though time we have lost
And the holes in our purse,
Our souls are brighter and taller
We will flow with the little streams
Avoiding the puddles that pollute
Our sky-white garments of peace
Defying the faces that stare, perplexed
And the barrage of words unspoken
For now we have found solace
For our pent-up hearts laden with emotions.
How man, noble, achieves this feat
Stays elusive: the mystery
Of finding solace in times of sorrow.
Left alone, in a barren house
Bereft of laughter, the air
Hangs heavy over mourning shoulders
In the throes of ambivalence.
Everything looks drab and dull
But the memories are fresh
And would linger for a long time to come.
We hear the distant drumming
And at that moment realize
Life would never the same be.
Bereaved, we cast mournful faces
Heavenward with sullen, imploring eyes
And ask the Divine One: WHY?
And the grief freely flows
As anxiety mounts over an uncertain future
And the lumps in our throats grow,
Our whys and worries, they grow
And become a mountain in our hearts.
But from within the doleful gloom
Little warm rays of comfort emanate
And warm our hearts, and soothe our souls
In our wailings we hear Divine:
Look within yonder pebbles of adversity
And find ye a pearl of comfort.
And we listen and search and find comfort
In the midst of our sorrows untold
And that gladdens our hearts
And makes the difference
And we move on…
Indeed, how men achieve this feat
Stands tall and stuns our souls.
Here the river, our tears, flows past
These walls and descend down the drift
And we hang our heads upon our palms
And wait. The air is heavy, not rosy
But the showers shall soon descend
For we await the New Day of blossoms.
It shall dawn and comfort we shall find:
A little comfort that grows in our home
Shall yet stand tall to soothe our souls.
Yes, comfort we have found
And solace, in the midst of loss.
© Nnamdi Ben Nneji