It is not speaking in tongue, child;
it is baiting fish with fish.
And so, I, a blind, tap around
for the door to my history.
It’s dark and dark everywhere.
Empty spaces cry for meaning!
I have sworn a bond with life.
To hold my end, I fall back on dreams
like bards, who spread honey-laced feelers
in the dark, hoping for errant ephemerals.
Crafty, wiry midwives!
I’ve learned from their magic.
I, who have always dreamt
to trick words from the dumb.
I swish my heart into our village’s muddy pond
where witches meet at night for fussy, fiery feasts.
Whatever the line pulls up must be able to sing
in the language of mortals of all ages and races.
A New Planting Season
(For Chinua Achebe – 1930-2013)
On his deathbed the elder opened his palms.
Empty, he said. Like the long road ahead.
I have planted the seeds my father gave me;
planted them the way my mother taught me.
Look around you and in the old barn.
More seeds, dung, watering cans, machetes,
two sided machetes. What needs to be said
has been said. All else is up to you.
Victuals for The Dead
(For Gloria Eze, 1973 – 2005)
I know a small hill down the village road
where the dead come to meet daily at dawn.
I went there for you; you couldn’t be found.
Did we bury you so deep into our gluey loam?
What pried you from us is stronger than our will.
But what binds us is tougher than the pull of death.
I offer you these words as victuals on your way.
Take them and do not look back in regret.
Since you never visited us I know you’re loved
wherever you are the way we’ve loved you.
What else could have rent our hearts as your death did?
I speak to you not to make you feel guilty;
I speak to you to let you know and have you beam:
In every corner of our house I find silky threads
of your hearty laugh; they stitch our hearts back again
to the shape that love has meant them to be.
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