Parting words

ACROSS A NEW DAWN

Sometimes, we read the
lines in the green leaf
run our fingers over the
smooth of the precious wood
from our ancient trees;

Sometimes, even the sunset
puzzles, as we look
for the lines that propel the clouds,
the colour scheme
with the multiple designs
that the first artist put together

There is dancing in the streets again
the laughter of children rings
through the house
On the seaside, the ruins recent
from the latest storms
remind of ancestral wealth
pillaged purloined pawned
by an unthinking grandfather
who lived the life of a lord
and drove coming generations to
despair and ruin

*

But who says our time is up
that the box maker and the digger
are in conference
or that the preachers have aired their robes
and the choir and the drummers
are in rehearsal?

No; where the worm eats
a grain grows.
the consultant deities
have measured the time
with long winded
arguments of eternity

And death, when he comes
to the door with his own
inimitable calling card
shall find a homestead
resurrected with laughter and dance
and the festival of the meat
of the young lamb and the red porridge
of the new corn

*

We are the celebrants
whose fields were
overrun by rogues
and other bad men who
interrupted our dance
with obscene songs and bad gestures

Someone said an ailing fish
swam up our lagoon
seeking a place to lay its load
in consonance with the Original Plan

Master, if you can be the oarsman
for our boat
please do it, do it.
I asked you before
once upon a shore
at home, where the
seafront has narrowed
to the brief space of childhood

We welcome the travelers
come home on the new boat
fresh from the upright tree

A poem by Kofi Awonoor (1935-2013), one of the victims of the recent attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi

From “Promises of Hope: New and Selected Poems,” selected by Kofi Anyidoho, University of Nebraska Press and the African Poetry Book Fund, 2014

2 thoughts on “Parting words

  1. Roopal

    Thank you for this Siobhan – it’s a fitting tribute to a tragic loss and a much-needed note of hope as the siege continues. I know many who are badly affected, and your post reminds me not to lose hope but to keep on fighting for peace and stability.

    1. Thank you Roopal. It was especially nice to hear from you at this time – I felt, in the wake of this sad news, an acute desire to hear from others to whom this news is not only very distressing but also deeply personal (though I have been fortunate not to have received any bad news from Nairobi). I hope you and yours will remain strong. We’re all in this together.

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