Strange End - Poem by Goodness Tchibueze
For us the journey of Existence starts
With the cut of the blade;
On fours for all.
The pain of ending bothers
The sweetness of the End.
Though souls dread the hereafter,
And some smoke on the rafter of Time,
And men cast off the hands of Age -
For their nostrils to breathe the gods -
How oft many end amid the few!
Could alchemy do and undo nature,
Or wealth stretch wide nature's hands?
If not End, whatelse ends Existence...
In the purple of a luminesce day
When the beds' thickcoats were yet unfurled,
For men slumbered their toils away
And stillness streamed in the world;
A re-echoing shrill impinged on the stillness
And into my hearing canal tore,
Bumped my heart off its pedestal,
And set off the weather in my brain.
Yellow in the palms and soles
And shuddering in the rear i rose
And prowled towards the re-echoing shrill,
Toeing past the seven mysterious,
Green knolls that surrounded the river,
(They are the gods watching over the river
And the sacred, white ducks were already
Doing ablution and sanctifying it for the fetchers) .
I oft wanted to withdraw from this
When the shrill re-echoed over the palm grove
And hence i toed into its sparsely grassed
Path which wounded through three hills;
A little further down the mountainfoot
Was a hut of mudwall and thatched roof;
A sliver of light from a hurricane lamp
Peeped through its jagged, wooden window;
The door was ajar, the shrill was gone...
Morning came with its sun and songs
And the day broke in my bowel
And swept clean my throat.
Was it curiosity or to rescue that had kept me out?
Or were some Spirits grazing my hairs?
I felt the cold spread over my warmth,
I vacillated between the warmth and cold
As fear innervated my body;
Armed with a staunch stick
Which i picked across the squashed head
Of a cobra's carcass beside a claypot
Near the boundary of grassy bushes;
I toed into the hut and heard
A faint pulsation of a heart
But saw no body, nor a corpse;
I only saw a photograph on a raffia-woven table.
The image bled and the pulsation
Came from its crushed breastbone
And ribs, thumbing faintly,
Clad in a tattered skin.
Was it a trick of Fear fooling my eyes?
Or have some Spirits spat schnapps
Into my face and eyes?
I rummaged the room for a remedy,
I found withered feathers of the killerbird
Tied with a knotted piece
Of red and black cloths.
Suddenly the pulsation ceased,
I cremated the photograph and the tied feathers
And felt their cold squeeze my warmth...
At midday the marketsquare suffered tumult:
A man had answered the call of the killerbird.
The marketsquare's autopsy revealed he came
Too soon, chased sacks of cowries
With flames ejecting from his rear -
Desperation to become a name had taken
His legs into the Devil's warehouse,
And he fell on his way out of it.
His affairs wore the cap of unfulfillment Hence he lived in the forest, in a hut.
He ended leaving no mourners, no offspring.
...For him the End miscarried the affairs of his Existence.
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