Fruity Flowers to Myself
Heart is in my mouth.
Part for fear, another with grief
This soil moulded me,
Its familiar grittiness embraces my feet
As I hurriedly step lightly, rapid
paces not schelping
I make quick my distance from my origin
in haste to my promise of green.
I do not kiss the soil
I do not take a stone and hide it in my palm
I am a prodigal, seeking my path to a distant pledge
Not looking back,
as the warm tendrils of my mother’s earth slowly unravel
from my body and I embrace the frost of a strange mother.
I place my feet gently, gingerly on this grey earth.
There are no rich blacks and browns here to stain my feet
I kiss the earth
I take a blade of grass and chew
I am an embracer of this new thing, this new feeling
This new fear that slowly clasps its chains around me
as it claims my soul, my hands, my heart to grieve,
in shame at my dissolute ways, my headlong race to forget
the source of my identity.
I look back,
letting the stolen memories of my mother’s heat waft to me
from other women’s cooking pots
I seek the green embrace of my home in the clasp of others.
I hunt for unconditional acceptance in the eyes of every warm skin
I pass in the streets.
The cold wraps around my tender feet as my toes try to recall
the heat of that homeland soil.
The eye of my heart sheds a solitary tear, it rolls and lies quiet
at the bottom of my belly, its sting reminds me of who I once was.
Its salty trail tells me who I am now and its journey asks me
who I still wish to be.
Heart in my mouth
Part with grief, another for fear.
I wish to be moulded again.
Ko ko ko
It’s hovering in the air above us
This silence clamouring for our words
Shh! Listen and raise your hands
Palm upwards, be kissed by the freedom of the air.
Ko ko ko
Let the one at home, tell the joyless wanderer
Something beckons and it is strong
Gird your loins, plant your feet
This wind looming is brutal
Ko ko di, ko ko da!
Warn the errant ant eating one
For tonight, we must sleep!
Our homestead has been plagued long enough
By needless vigils of hate
Let peace seep like love into our eyes and
Close them tenderly
Ko ko ko ko ko ko ko ko di!
This hunter’s dog will return to camp
If ears reject their calling, then
We’ll speak to the eyes, urging them
To see what our silence says
It is hovering amongst us
This wind. Stick out your tongues and suck
We were once afraid together, now together we are strong
This thing cannot lift us, cannot shift us,
cannot stop us, cannot slam us to the ground
Ko ko ko ko ko ko ko ko di!
We hear it in the wind, its hovering within us
Our feet must stay planted
Our steps firm and sure
Our eyes urging our ears to remember
Sleep this time tonight will be sweet, guilt free
We hear it, listen, understand and tell it
It is here, it is now and it is ours
Ko ko da!
Its gathering in the storm, and
I gather my weeds, stand facing it.
The force blows through my dreads and
each one lifts in fear and lies back to cower
in this billowing. I stand weak kneed, small,
terrified to my core but
still standing. For lying, is no option for
the gladiator about to face certain death.
My only weapon is laughter, I throw back my head and
Peal. Even when the wind knocks my mirth back into my head,
I force it out again, make it louder , harder.
For I have no more tears in here.
I am dehydrated; all I have left is this empty echo of a laugh
I repeat to the face of this storm just to say
‘I am still here’ though I quiver at the new onslaught
gathering for me.
I laugh and laugh till my teeth almost separate from my soul but
I keep on for I am afraid that if I stop, I will cry.
The billowing arms of this storm will beat me into submission
I have no strength; my weapon is feeble, futile in the face of this. However
I wave it with every conviction I can lie with.
The storm is upon me, my eyes are shut
I may go down but I will be the warrior
Who dies, teeth bared.
Alajo – The Returnee
(seven steps of a journey)
From above, fields of mossy green
From this height, I cannot say for sure
Which is which, but
They resound by one name-home.
Silver trails of river, like a snail’s
Path, then moss, green, brown, black
Moss, green, then silvery white, tin, aluminium roofs,
glinting up a twinkle of welcome.
Eko ile, mi oni’ sanwo onibode, ile!
My eyes are soaking in every event, every sight,
every colour meltdown
Carrying rapidly to my memory to refresh and
bring about reconciliation.
I was draped in the fabric of my people.
Metal stone glints a welcome
I come out of the car, stoop, pick up a rough stone
Press it into my palm, till it hurts.
I am convinced. I am here.
I must never forget, must
never become numb, must
always be alive , aware.
There’s a rough imprint on my palm
Indentations on my fingertips
The imprint looks like faces, familiar.
I suck my fingertips gently
Then press my palm to my heart
This always must be.
Every time I am reminded anew
of how much I miss him.
When I catch in the smile of
the man asking for directions.
In the gait of he who walks ahead of me.
In the teeth of a fellow client
in a restaurant.
In the firm handshake of a kindly one
welcoming me into a fold.
Every time, when tiny things happen,
I am reminded anew
how very deeply, I miss him.
Two rain showers, one terrible traffic jam later
I’m sitting in wonder of my sporadic,
Olohuniyo, Dada man
Your locks still hold the wisdom I seek.
If another lock be cut by darling toddler hands,
I beg, post one to me, just one that
I may brew it like tea,
sup of your creative being.
I am the four year returnee and the
landmarks of my existence swing up to greet.
Ladipo, Shogunle, PWD, Ikeja
Familiar names, my tongue had ceased to pronounce but
finding them gain, roll off like silver coins.
Streets of my breeding lay
pliant at my feet ‘walk in child, ma beru, ma foya
Ile baba eni kin b’ani leru’
So, I walk, lifting my feet gingerly, then surely.
There is no fear in these shoes.
I am my father’s daughter, these
streets were paved in my name.
They have gathered around me, the
robes of my friendships,
I am swathed, overwhelmed, delighted
I am not the stranger I feared I’d be.
The robes gather me,
I am naked with glee.
Stripped of all angst, worry, pain, shame
Here I am covered.
Ashiri mi bo. Home.
I am again, the departee
Unwrapping the cords tying me to
mother’s womb. The green
tendrils slowly unravelling as
I rise further in the air.
The musty air where I drew comfort
clears, gets cold. I am leaving again.
Mother Frost claims this one as
brown earthed arms give me back.
I see brown, rich green and brilliant silver.
We rise further, I stop looking down.
I put my hand in my bag to get a book,
it connects with rough, I draw it out,
caress its roughness, as the falls water my heart.
Feeling green tendrils embrace me again in
rich brown warmth. It’s always with me.
Mi o ni f’owo osi juwe ile baba mi!
(c) Biodun Idowu