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. Ajani 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