All this flower needs, is a little watering
In this poem, I ask for forgiveness without meaning it. Forgive me if it bothers you. Amen.
My mother stands under the eave of our thatched hut, and cups the beads of the first rain in her wrinkled hands. In my village, it is said to carry all the goodies at God’s feet into the earth. She calls to me, dede, sanga li; that is to say, come child. And then she mimics the clouds- empties the little pond in her palms worn out from years of ploughing my country’s infertility, into my hair, and gently spreads the tributaries as they cascade down my face; with such gentleness as is shown sacred things. Her lips tracing a prayer-
Son, may your feet know the fertile earth of the white man’s land.
Out of fear, I burrow my toes into the earth of my father’s compound. Who knows, her words could turn into spells, magically teleporting me to a street where everything is dressed in snow- forgive me, this is all the picture my mind could mold.
How do I pray for forgiveness?
How do I say it; that each time the pastor stands on the altar to pray for the youths his words as butterflies bouncing towards God and then westward;
That I stand in the pew and mutter words that turn into shields that resist them from getting to God but returns as arrows and tent in their skins? That when our neighbor’s son charcoaled in the hell of a plane, that wasn’t what I asked God?
How do I say it, that I don’t mean them evil?
That I only believe my country is capable of breaking into a field of daffodils;
And we, colourful birds sucking at its nectar.
After The birds are calling me by Adesiyan Oluwapelumi
In a dream, I walk with my second brother (he is not dead anymore). His shirt vies with the sky, blue. And I don’t have that fear of coming home to the aftermath of a war- broken furniture, a broken pane, broken people. I mean the road is filled with happy people- even the men run after butterflies and the women stick flowers in their hair. And the girls on the street walk without casting glances behind their back. I mean they no more wear the fear of being a victim of rape. And I shake hands with my father and my teeth do not grit. I mean my father eats in the same plate with his rival brother. And the orange in the backyard is ripe with fruits; my tongue is convinced this is how happiness tastes. The orange. And I pinch my skin and it feels real. Yet my mind guffaws in disbelief; can there be a place where this skin knows nothing next to pain?
Poems: © Eliongema Udofia
Image: Bianca Van Dijk Pixabay remix