African Poems

John Pepper Clark (Abiku)

Coming and going these several seasons,
Do stay out of the baobab tree,
Follow where you please your kindred spirits

If indoors is not enough for you.
True, it leaks through the thatch
When floods brim the banks,
And the bats and owls
Often tear in at night through the eaves,
And at harmattan, the bamboo walls
Are ready tinder for the fire
That dries the fresh fish up on the rack.
Still, it’s been the healthy stock
To several fingers, to many more will be
Who reach to the sun.
No longer then bestride the threshold
But step in and stay
For good. We know the knife scars
Serrating down your back and front
Like beak of the sword-fish,
And both your ears, notched
As a bondsman to this house,
Are all relics of your first comings.
Then step in, step in and stay
For her body is tired,
Tired, her milk going sour
Where many more mouths gladden the heart.

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

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

*Abiku: Yoruba (a group of people in Nigeria) word for a child born to die young and believed to be reborn by the same woman over and over again
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