Poetry

The Widower: Poems by ‘Kego Onyido

Daughter of Eve

He first saw her under a silvery moon
And stood transfixed watching from afar
He’d mustered enough courage to call upon her
But only by the next noon
For she was fair, as she was fine
Blessed with a pretty lone dimple and eyes that shine
With hidden dark mysteries of winter’s night
And the warmth of summer’s sunny delight
Height like an Amazon, a figure defying age
The kind that drove boys wild and their girls to rage
She was Eve’s daughter, and yet so shy
And like an angel, in innocence, she could fly.

She’s enthralled by him and he tells her tales
Words of flattery so sweet she fails
to see the spear that would fiercely pierce
her sweet nectar with razor-sharp speed
He had his fill and quenched a need
She had a bittersweet thrill and is left with his seed
And many moons after, all alone,  she welcomes her daughter
And whenever there’s a silvery moonlight out in the sky
She holds her baby to her breasts and croons a haunting lullaby
Of a woman-child in the very beginning
Long, long ago before original sin
Who was fair as she was fine
With a pretty lone dimple and eyes that shine…

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The Widower

An ordinary full moon
Not a whisper of warning
No signs to alert me
Night came in stealth, so suddenly
As I lay here in sleep
Beside the keeper of my heart
And in her womb nestled my unborn seed
Night came at that pregnant hour
When dusk and dawn meet in embrace
And like a coward, it scurried away before I awoke
It left long before I could catch my breath
Night came empty-handed
And left with both hands full

And so when she died
The music died with her too
And as they put her down
Beneath the udala tree
I sank to my knees and cried
And mourned for the loss of two
Seasons have come, seasons have gone
And yet the keeper of my heart
Holds on to it still
I feel her breath fanning my skin
In the rustlings of the cassava leaves
She sings a lonely melody
With the lost creatures of the night
And once and again
She comes with the rain
And as the waters touch my lips
I weep, for I taste her salty tears
And on every night with a full moon
I go to sleep and pray
That tonight be the night
That night comes again in stealth, so suddenly
And finally takes me back to the keeper of my heart.

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Stolen Home

They came home, to find it was no more
The dusty red earth,
Holy and welcoming to our feet
Soft to touch as we kneel to fill our palms with a part of universe
A land so blessed we bow our foreheads and kneel in homage
To the mysteries buried beneath.
The rusty, dusty red-earth, all gone.
Gone!
And in its place coal-tarred, bitumen-filled grounds.
Hard roads, so unwelcoming and unforgiving.
Before, we gave the blood of cockerels to the spirits of the soil
And so we walked, young and old alike,
To our mud homes on bare-feet, freely and safely.
And they came, those fair strangers
And told us that we desecrate our land,
They told us our chi was no good at all
We believed them without questioning,
And our brothers that dared to question,
they made us cast aside.
Chei! Chimo! Alu!
And so now, these roads feed not on the cockerels’ blood
But on the blood of our innocent sons and daughters
Who discard their feet for fast metal boxes
streamlined for speed.
Ah speed!
And so we all hurry, but unto death.
Earning more and yet poorer still.
Yes, they came home
And found it was no more.

They came home to find it was no more.
Those tranquil scenes and yet something deeper.
Foliage so green it mesmerizes the senses.
The palm trees adorning narrow, winding roads,
wild flowers with hidden thorns sleeping peacefully by the roadside.
The smells of burning woods and oils
The air filled with aromas of ogiri and ugba
And colors, such a kaleidoscope that the eyes cannot contain
And so, it savors it slowly and richly in the heart, in the mind, in the spirit.
Colors everywhere, black signs on mud walls
showing the passage of ancestors long gone.
Colors and patterns on abada wrappers
Hugging shapely buttocks
and breasts jiggling with the ripeness
of untapped juices within.
Maidens with jigida beads,
Swaying to the unsung rhythms of their waists.
Co -wives gossiping and giggling on their way to the stream,
of steamy nights with their ‘dim oma’.
Their muddy-brown calabashes resting majestically on their ojas.
Men walking the earth and living off their sweat,
They proudly provide for their women and their seeds.
Children dancing barefoot in the salty rain,
And then with such blissful abandon,
Hurrying for a place at the old man’s feet
For tales told under the moonlight
Against the sounds of chirping birds and crickets.
All gone! Skyscrapers everywhere.
Gases and fuels and chemicals
Filling our senses, killng our cells.
No more ogiri in mama’s soups,
No! too smelly rather sweet smelling maggi
And so we hear of high blood- this and hyper –that,
Austism-this and deficiency-that.
The children no longer listen to the tortoise tales anymore
Rather they sit in a trance before a box and clog their ears
Watching and listening strange sights and sounds.
Yes, they came home
And found it was no more.

Our great grand fathers were heathens, they said.
One man, one wife! Hmmm…I laugh in wry amusement.
And we believed them without asking questions.
Now a man marries ten wives, but serially,
Casting the old aside for another,
And this is the man that is civilized. He is cultured!
Nna anyi, can you hear me?
Our maidens were barbaric, they were crude, they said
Because they had soothing, healing uli
adorning their glowing skin.
And pray, tell, what are these knifed in tattoos?
Why the eye pencils, and lipsticks and cancerous blush?
Oh I go weary, I go tired with loss.
I must stop, stop this now or go mad!
Indeed, my ancestors came
But found it was no more.

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A Journey into Madness

This descent to the abyss
Is not at all an unwelcome state
For my senses have never known peace such as this
It is but a fitting fate
For a mind drugged for ages with unhappiness
It did not come suddenly in a flash
My journey was like the welcomed approach of sleepiness
It came gently, gently, none too harsh
An exciting spiral through a dark tunnel
Like a pretty twister forming an earth’s funnel
With no beginning and no end
No surprising turn or bend
Just an eternity of free flying motion
With the whispering winds
Blowing away at the wings
Of my unsung sanity
I will stay here and close my eyes for a while
And journey on, a thousand and a mile
Until I forget all my nightmares
And the crippling fear disappears.

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Love

‘Tis truly amazing, to watch what havoc you cause
To seemingly innocent folks who’ve done you naught
To some a blessing, and to others a curse
And to all sane minds what great madness you wrought.

‘Tis truly amazing to watch grown folks take reason
And at your behest tear it all to shreds
None is exempt, season after season
All is entangled in your mesh of deceptive threads.
‘Tis truly amazing to watch all live at your mercy
Fathoming not when or how you’d strike
Like blind sailors tossed away at sea
To your pitiless waves blowing whither you like.
‘Tis truly amazing to hear what myths you inspire
Tales of your glory, saying you are blind
I think not, for to cowards you are merciless and unkind
And your mercy, only the brave will ever truly find.

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(c) ‘Kego Onyido

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