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
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:
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
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.
Poems © Joseph Omoh Ndukwu
Image: Miranda Kellems via Flickr