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Hollow in a Man: Poems by Mary Opaluwa


My gaze has been on the road
Peeping through eyes
Bordered with loneliness
Waiting for one smile
Amidst a million faces
And hoping the tree
Whose boughs lead home
Has not been cut

How many prayers
Need to be hummed
Before you find your way
To the space created
In the chamber of my heart

The Christmas tree had blossomed
And withered
A few more breath
To New Year eve
One more sigh
To the turn of another year
Another anniversary of my solitude



Here stands the harsh sun
That lashed our backs
When we went under its shade
In search of lalle

Here is the motif
Of our soft feet
Imprinted on the wet sand
Now trampled by the feet
Of new dancers
Holding hands
Singing and spinning
Round about the moon

Here is the tomb
Of the infant catfish
That priced our thumbs
When we made barbecue
On toilet slabs

Here under the heap of dust
Lies the remains of my art
The portrait of an eye
That did not live past
One blast of thunder

That is my childhood
Flying on the back of the wind
Into the forest
Where the snake hissed
And enchanted us
To pick the fruits of death

That is my childhood
Drown in the Niger
That splashed waters at us
On Saturday mornings



Sometime in the beginning
As God strolled across the earth
His nose flared
At the sight of darkness
Laid on the earth
As a hen incubates its eggs
And at the sound of his words
Darkness was chased into night’s tent

Day and night
He tended the gallery
For the exhibition of his sculptures
Into which life was transfused
And afterwards sat back on his throne
With hands folded over his chest

One of God’s little sculptures
Poured ink on a plain sheet
And painted the colors of the earth
And in the process
Stained himself
But attained immortality
In a bid to mimic his maker
In the art of creation



There is a crack in his ribs
That can be stitched
With the thread
Woven from the strands of her hair

There is a hollow in a man
That can be filled
With the carcass of a woman
Seeking refuge from vanity



We despise superstition
But prophesy wealth
When our right palm itches

When the resonance
Of our names swirl around
Not from father or mother
But from the lips of the air
We know swiftly
To claim dump to our ancestors
And reiterate affinity with the living



Not that the flower
Enjoys the sting of the bee
Neither the bat being blind
Nor me being female
But that is the way of our father

On such nights as this
As I lay down
To gather the broken remnant
Of tormenting memories
Did I recall these

Once upon a time
Had I been a victim of a lad
I saw his incredible silhouette
Meandering like the tide of the sea
Whichever route I chose
Then we came to a hush

I saw the desire in his eyes
The sheep in his grin
I heard the man in him
Freed from the shackles of control
Asking for a hell broth

He saw the torture in my vibration
And in my eyes
A cascade
Dripping hot and hurting

He heard my plea
A plea to let go
From the claws of his adventure
But he heard me not



Upon waking
Never listen to the symphony of birds
Like tones
From strings in concert
Lest you began to dance
With a sour mouth

Never walk at night
When the moon is full
And in company of stars
Lest you saw its light
And find your way home

Never go to the house of those
Whose garments are torn
And have their heads shaven
Lest you looked on the ceiling
And saw the mercy
Of the ancient one
And become happy



The stars smiled from their hiding
When the sun slipped into oblivion

As animals from the bush
As fishes from the river
All Meet at love arena

The feet of dancers go astray
As the moon tires of standing
Yet drummers beat to new dreams

The owl hooks a chick
And a flower is pollinated
On the sheets of lust


(c) Mary Opaluwa

Mary Opaluwa
Mary Opaluwa
Coming soon.


  1. Beautiful poems! I love the feminine touch running through your poems. This captivating style is gradually becoming your trade mark. keep it up!

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