Sentinel Poetry (Online) #59 ISSN 1479-425X
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF POETRY & GRAPHICS...since December 2002
November 2007 l POETRY
*(Four Water Poems)
1. Thinking of Iyi Oda
Where is the road that leads to Iyi Oda,
village stream that watered my being,
where the water clings to your feet,
a child in need of loving-kindness.
I shall return to you, Iyi Oda, peaceful brook
where every morning was a conference
of boys and girls lost in their innocence
unmindful of their birthday suits.
I shall return to you, watermaid,
to read my book of life to your silent rhythm
unbroken by years of desertion.
I think of you in an alien land,
recalling every dive with mists
spreading like halos above my head.
I think of you, Iyi Oda…
How I wondered how you came
Through thickets smelling like damp armpits.
There were times you played windsongs, rustling like
a kettle hissing with boiling water and sowing desire in my loins.
Then, I longed to drop into your watery bosom
and blossom from your fetishes of love.
Iyi Oda, wish you could stretch your warm arms to me here,
curl around me, lost in a shrinking and sinking planet in peril,
where each day the sun bakes a climate of fear
and lumberjacks shun the sweet scents of the forest.
Where is the road that leads to Iyi Oda,
where the fishes are shy, flashing like my eyelids
and swimming in a hide-and-seek style.
Village stream that watered my childhood,
I will return to you, penitent, for my final cleansing.
The cleansing begins with a teardrop -
Nature’s watery pearls drop
Springing from his eyes before they pop
In salutation to grief.
She’s been long gone
To where she belongs.
Watermaid with a heart of rock,
He’ll write you into his bleeding book.
“When was the last time you cried?”
His little girl asked. “Daddy, you make me want to cry too.”
Her eyes are a dripping tap
Each droplet landing like a full-stop.
There are no commas in grief
And tears know no punctuation
They are like July rains
That fall in Lagos at random.
“Misfortunes never come singly,” he quotes,
His life a stammer of squashed hopes
In search of happiness he found the sea
And Mammywota, the deep river woman.
And the cleansing begins with a teardrop
And riders to the sea know the value of water.
3. Meeting the Pacific at Point Reyes
(For Lee Swenson, tour guide and marvelous host)
Sitting by the Pacific at Point Reyes
the mind rummages its two-and-a-half miles depth
as the sea spreads its wide mysteries
through one-third of the earth’s surface.
In the horizon, earth and water in combat
invoke the fate of Ferdinand Magellan
on that day when filled with sea sickness,
the famed explorer blurted: “Mare Pacificum.”
At Point Reyes, I see the sea is truly ‘peaceful,’
today, the water ripples as if caressed by a lazy wind,
and the grasses kissing the borders of the beach
Sway and hiss respectfully to Nature’s songs.
Maryana, the Ukrainian, picks California blackberries
as Lee locates Point Reyes Lighthouse in the fog,
a 37-foot testimony to human challenge of nature.
Queyn, thinking of Vietnam, writes his
daughter’s name on the beach sands:
And I, troubadour of many colours,
think of Lagos Bar Beach where every
holiday, Olookun takes a swimmer for sacrifice
and the Atlantic, ever hungry, eats our land.
But at Point Reyes, there are no
signs of the shrinking ocean; no
sounds of any plate tectonics below
only Nature in its aquatic splendour.
I will return to your watery Majesty, Pacific,
A vagrant in search of oceanic secrets,
and like Pablo Neruda, “I yearn only
to become the incarnation of marine stone.”
4. The Sea Bears Many Secrets
(For Nneka, murdered and dumped into the Atlantic)
No one knew when the butcher called,
hireling from a budding secret cult
who by day is human and friend,
but at night, a bloodthirsty fiend.
You listened, following fate like the wind,
sowing friendship and reaping no pity
Then you walked into a hideous bind
where beasts reign over a garden city.
You didn’t prepare for the mortal embrace
and so you departed your room with grace,
beauty, with a head loaded with knowledge
but not smart enough to know he wouldn’t budge.
And so like John, you walked in evil hour
into the nest of a lovesick slaughterer
who with just one poisoned kiss of death
sucked your naive blood and sought
the sea to wash you down and wash him clean
knowing the sea bears many secrets like rain.
* * *
There are secrets buried in the vaults of seas -
treasures from sunken ships, treasures from
cities buried by cyclones and earthquakes
There are bones of drowned swimmers,
sailors, passengers and homicide victims…
There are amphibians, plants, plankton, and skeletons,
not even underwater archaeologists can hunt them all.
On their banks, too, are more secrets,
Like the huge graveyard for five million victims
Left on the Congo by Leopold II of Belgium.
You could have been one, Nneka,
disappearing without a farewell or a scar
but the sea is no resting-ground for you
and so the sea rejected you,
even with the stone strung on your waste
you floated without a lifebuoy
to give testimony at nineteen,
just a term to graduation.
You floated like the seaweed,
seeking justice even in death
with nothing but a skewered heart.
The mourning time is not over yet
Every morning we think of you, and
Every water body recalls your sordid exit.
The sea may bear many secrets
But there are some it spews forth.
*Poems excerpted from a forth-coming collection, Love in a Time of Nightmare
Last updated on 11/11/07 Site copyright Sentinel Poetry Movement. Magazine design & layout by Nnorom Azuonye.
Creative writing & graphics © 2007 The writers and artists. All rights reserved.