A STORY BETWEEN TWO AUGUSTS
(An elegy on the death of Christopher Okigbo)
Today I read of you Okigbo
I discover a part of you that I’ve not previously known
I irrigate my thoughts with your words
And drink coffee with you Okigbo.
I may not have met you in your lifetime
But we have crossed paths in your poetry
You that taught me of heartbreak in “Love apart”
But alas! I have tried but I never learned.
Achebe Wept a River the day you died
I’m sure he grieved as much for those unformed words that died with you
I wonder if he saw your numb bullet-ridden body
I wonder if anyone at your last breath shut your eyes and mumbled a little eulogy.
Your death was in your name – Ifekandu;
Something had to be greater than Life
And when that Something was freedom from oppression
You sheathed your S-words and took a gun.
Today we will discuss what you died for
Do you know Achebe is dead? Do you have literary gatherings there?
It will be a long day, and the details would not be what you dreamed of
But sit Okigbo, you will learn to enjoy the coffee I brew.
Note: in memory of Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo (August 16, 1932 – August 1967)
“Christopher fell in August 1967, in Ekwegbe, close to Nsukka, where his poetry had come to sudden flower seven short years earlier”
Chinua Achebe – There was a Country.
They await your Death
You twisted-back child that stagger along busy streets
You that Scoliosis has ridden from inception
They pity you but await your death.
They pity you that is why they wish it was there but more common Like Kyphosis;
You know the one your dead Father had,
Upper back twisted thirty degrees to the center.
The first time you saw Doctor
He gave you Ten Naira; threw it out of his car window
He said to his Woman ‘I pity him, this is not hereditary’
She sighed, ‘Tufiakwa!’ that was how you knew.
They say you must survive
As long as God wants
So they give you little money
And use your state to ask for big favour.
But they await your Death
You see it in the way they frown, like you are a thing out of place
A necessary mistake that ensures fortune’s balance,
A purgatory for the sins of this world.
This twisted-back child that walks the streets
Nobody gives you a chance
Not nature, not fate, not your people, not me
They pity you, but await your death.
Poems © Ebuka Prince Okoroafor