I have gone, placing pollen on wild flowers,
Breaking butterflies from their cocoons.
I have filled full
The brown calabashes of the coconuts
That swayed their fronds against the wind.
Their dance had captured my eyes,
But their fruits did not touch my lips.
The song of the weaver bird had woken
The sun and the skies must wipe their tears
From the face of the earth.
The stubborn weeds shall reach down into the deep;
Seeking new roots.
The wanderer shall stumble upon
Another story to colour his days,
And another dream
To fill up the empty sky at night
With enough quest and questions
To last a million heartbeats.
What will a man hide in the cave
That the blind bat will never find?
How far out must the sea spread its blue
That the river will not run and follow?
Alas I can never run freely
The meandering river of life,
Entrusting all my faith in its green waters
Like the mackerel or the salmon.
Nor can I return with the stars upon my face;
The path I had once taken,
Across seven hills and seven rivers,
Across the wilderness,
Through thorns and thickets,
The fallow land, the embrace of the red earth;
Where tread the black virgins with their jugs,
Walking the winding ways of our forefathers.
The path of honest men
Is the lonely road,
Their place is the wilderness,
That is why the world does not recognize them,
That is why only a few can take heart and follow.
Alas I can only sit by the bank of this river
Offering my tears as libation
To the mermaid of the sea.
“Oh Mermaid, oh mother,
In your presence alone have I come to see
That all my quest and questions
Are but a chase after the wind.”
I have written to the old, a tale yet untold;
Of a young slave sold, for a few pieces of gold.
I have sung to the wind, the sad songs of the spring.
Swept leaves the autumns bring, in service of a king.
Though comrades forsake, faith strapped to the heart won’t break.
Though the night awaits, day at dawn will surely break.
I worked plantations, exhumed thoughts of Imhotep,
Dug up the mummies of conscience, that time unkempt.
The unrepentant spirits of our ancestors,
Which the born again generation thus despise.
The lost scripts of ancient Alexandrian rectors,
Which the modern sages read aloud with blinded eyes.
The twisted rope around “Igbukwu” calabash,
The lost island of Atlantis they solely search.
I, “Ahamuefuna”. I and no other,
Stolen from the earth; from the breast of my mother.
I was marked by fire; the brand of another,
Conceived in summer; the warm kiss of a lover.
I have travelled stars yonder, a mile and further
Been to the earth’s border, returned a young elder.
I am the fires of the mystical dragon,
From fairytales to everlasting life did breathe.
The last echoed note from stem of broken bamboo,
Floating all around the gay-gentle evening breeze.
I have tasted the forbidden fruit of Eden,
Drank from the spring of life, and judged I, a heathen.
Now weak I walk with faith the path of foreign god.
Neither ills nor iron will fasten my native tongue.
I shall sing the evening songs of the nightingale,
Sorrowful psalms of slaves on the African vale.
I shall thus ordain the night, the moon I shall wed,
And baptize the twinkle stars in Hibiscus red.
I shall strike hard the heavens, free a million tears
From the shackles of darkened clouds the skies do bear.
I had sailed from the mouth of the River Niger;
Bound in chains, bearing yellow sun on my shoulder.
Explored the torrential tongues of Cleopatra,
And freed the very emotions that confined her.
Am I not a man, built of blood and brittle bone?
A chief priest and the gods have cursed my ears alone?
My lips are twisted with sharp knives of the Bantu
Warriors, till bleeding words flow from tongue’s mantle.
Do I not see through myopic eyes of mortals,
Same clay figurine, forged by distant porters?
Do I not breathe same air my anus foul, with grace?
Or should I yet dig six feet down, to save my face?
-To bury my head in shame? I, lost son of Eri,
Unsung hero of defunct Biafran ferry.
Did I not fight for peace with both gun and cutlass
With “Ogbunigwe” and amours of lowly class?
Do I still bear dead dreams of our founding fathers?
Incinerated hopes of our fallen brothers?
I, a peasant, whose oxen is good for slaughter.
I, a rebel, whose homeland is good for plunder.
This is my story; a tale of wit and worry,
For which I stooped low, washed feet both base and holy.
This is my story; a tale of guns and gory
Of injured pride, past forgotten in a hurry.
Much have I endured alone: grave plunders of men.
Upon the ruins of Ashanti and asked I when:
Shall broken bones rise again to reclaim the vale?
Shall the sun rise again on faces poor and pale?
And now I shall set sail, to you Dear Africa.
To Monrovia, to the ports of Liberia.
There to live out my last days in your sweet embrace.
To run wild, chat and chatter like monkey, with grace
One with nature, and paint my soul in green and more.
Till the sun rises again, to set nevermore.
–The line “I have written to the old, a tale yet untold” was taken with permission from a poem by Ohaka Henry.
© Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo
Image: Jose Roberto V Moraes