African Poems

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Christopher Okigbo (The Passage)


BEFORE YOU, my mother Idoto,
Naked I stand;
Before your weary presence,
A prodigal

Leaning on an oilbean,
Lost in your legend
Under your power wait I
On barefoot,
Watchman for the watchword
At Heavensgate;

Out of the depth my cry:
Give ear and hearken…

DARK WATERS of the beginning.

Ray, violet, and short, piercing the gloom,
Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.

Rainbow on far side, arched like boa bent to kill,
Foreshadow the fire that is dreamed of.

Me to the orangery
Solitude invites,
A wagtail, to tell
The tangled-wood-tale;
A sunbird, to mourn
A mother on spray.

Rain and sun in single combat;
On one leg standing,
In silence at the passage
The young bird at the passage

SILENCE FACES at crossroads:
Festivity in black…

Faces of black like black
Column of ants,

Behind the bell tower,
Into the hot garden
Where all roads meet:
Festivity in black…

O Anan at the knob of the panel oblong,
Hear us at crossroads at the great hinges

Where the players of loft organ
Rehearse old lovely fragment, alone-

Strains of pressed orange leaves on pages
Bleach of the light of years held in leather:

For we are listening in cornfields
Among the windplayers,
Listening to the wind leaning over
Its loveliest fragment….

Submitted: Saturday, October 26, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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