Biting needles of winter Sticking their spines into my goose bumps Stood to attention Drawing my affection for the flames Licking dry the air around. The message was writ in the fiery flames From them faith I drew As the streams of warmed blood Wormed through my body.
She wakes up early in the morning and works like a mother Which she is not but only a child. She has to clean the house as if it belongs to her But it doesn’t, she’s only living there. She has to cook to feed her siblings But what to cook is the big question. Perhaps she must cook the questions Fry them until they become the answers to her poverty. Children should never be poor After all they inherit poverty from poor parents. But then, like an angry cobra another question raises its head: What can the child do if born by poor parents? Her parents chose each other But then she couldn’t choose her parents The conundrum of life keeps her canned in poverty. She was born in poverty to inherit poverty.
I know it wasn’t your wish: that you should go before you arrived, close your eyes before you opened them, that you should never see this beautiful world, that you should die before you even lived a life. That’s why I know it was not your wish and I’m sure you would have loved living.
They plotted against you in their laboratories amassing tomes of knowledge about who you are. They studied you and all the ways of killing you as if you are not a product of their hot loins. Then they came up with laws to justify this. You, lifeless, nameless, faceless stranger.
Who knows you’re going to be doctors or lawyers, or scientists to find the HIV cure? Yet, they didn’t want to be bothered by you for they give limping excuses for your elimination as if they didn’t know you would certainly sprout after their pleasure dances are over … or whatever.
This journey has been too long: We’ve trudged through endless corridors of darkness Trying to find ourselves in the maze of our lives. Our shadows we thought we’d left behind But come the pale morning moonlight, On our heels our shadows trotted like faithful dogs.
This life time journey is very long: Our legs have become stumps of history That remain jutting out on the road So we can hit our toes and like drunks, stumble As we trudge besides the shadows in the darkness.
This journey will be very long: Our minds will be ransacked By those in search of our conscience For it is there that we’ll build our homes So that we may nurse back our lost memories And make peace with our dogging doppelgangers Before we come to terms with our real selves.
On a wintry autumn evening in ‘64 When the air was thick with teargas and heavy boots thudded in the streets did we not all huddle together Mother, brother and little sister tending a crackling fire (or was the fire not tending us) as we exchanged terrified flame-lit smiles while cracking groundnuts for dinner?
Did we not wait anxiously that wintry autumn evening while needles of the cold wind punctured our scantily clothed backs and our ears pricked for a gentle knock which would mean our father was back?
Before that wintry autumn night, had we not heard of the happy returns of other fathers of other children with whom our father had been arrested while we held that un-announced wake for a father we were unlikely to see again?
After that wintry autumn evening when father did not come back with the others and we huddled by the crackling fire like chicks harassed by a marauding hawk while Mother did what she could to comfort us, did we not know that the future was futile without the man who we had known all our lives?
Somewhere in a far away country A young child of the soil Bedecked with degrees of all nature Looks at the blank wall wondering Why all this wandering is naught. The child imagines home on the blank wall Where all hopes were shattered And splattered on the wall of the canvas of poverty.
Those days are now hidden in history. They may never, to us ,come back. They have been erased From the immediacy of today But remain interred in the ashes of our memories. We remember them dimly though From horizons that have faded. Those days are hidden in history.
Then, we used to humanise In the harmony of humanity. Remembering the gatherings at the water well, The sharing that was caring But today has become scaring, The all-night prayers play no role anymore In our lives as we social distance From all those we used to embrace. Those days rest today In the ashes of history
If I were a sculptor Adze and chisel in my hand And a man-size soapstone to chip away I would create you to my specifications: Those eyes would be large as the moons of Jupiter, To light up my life during dark nights.
If I were a sculptor I would make those lips full Like the sweet segments of peeled oranges So I can sip sweetness when I kiss them.
Yes, if I were a sculptor I would adorn your rotund cheeks With double dimples To make smile even when you’re angry with me.
If I were a sculptor Adze and chisel in my hand I would dig those valleys And mould those mountains on your bodyscape To my own specifications.