Waiting for Departure in a Pandemic Dawn 

The silence of the afternoon is heavy, only cries of birds 
settling on the pines besides the rails can be heard.

Fayetteville, dead with its brave voices, 
fiery with its Summer arm. 

It seems the buildings with their huge mouths
are speaking to me, saying 

you can’t wait for the world that has already gone. 
The trees spread their hands in gestures for me to come. 

I walk on thinking about Okigbo at heavensgate.
What bell can wake up a deaf world, poet of thunder?

I hate risk. But my email spam has big solicitors 
these days looking for who to inherit their earth.

It is the fourth time the air company 
will cancel my flight home in a sour American dream. 

In the story of Lagos yesterday,
politicians take their chances and rewrite their manifesto.

In a town, people tear the roof of a house with their teeth
searching for grains in a hungry world.

 Down in FSU at the place where Chestnut Library begins
 I watch the goose, take turns on things on the red brick walkway. 

The stars look like old shiny coins these days 
and each time before I sleep, I bracket a side

and count them as a partial list of days left 
before the door of the world opens.


I was with you that April
When time spun the field upward
And I was stuck in the gut of the city
While walking on thorns 
And the world writing waywardly
Its own story of horror, 
People breathing heavily
Begging for a last dose of life.
You were the one generous with faith, 
Gathering stories of how not to stay sad
In a grueling sad world.

You were one of those who
Have lived in the darkness of this town
Whom hope burns their pockets
In the corridor of the street
And have stayed to see tornadoes taking houses
By their legs onward to the ocean arms.
You have said this is not how your journey
Begins.  In the beginning was the dream
To be the oak in your own sleep.
In the beginning was an open belly of a town
Where the sun licked the last blood of children
And tore their skin from labor
In a country already in the hands of termites.
In the beginning was Paris train ride
And letters that did not get home but sink
At the bottom of the sea.

Do you remember how we proceeded
Each day to the backyard
And talked about myth of the desert
As a forest of greens where ghosts
Harvest corn? Do you remember
How Ibukun stood hands akimbo
Watching Houcien attempt its first basketball hit?
And I too with the small animal of my body
Shooting my shot into the open basket of the sky?
Do you remember the night
We lit the candles at the backyard
Praying for a planet high on the hope of capitalism
And for those who crave for a final return?

About the Author:

Salawu Olajide is a Nigerian poet and author of Preface for Leaving Homeland, published under African Poetry Book Fund. He is currently the editor of Olongo Africa

Feature image by Sam Moghadam Khamseh/Unsplash