I am like Orji, the iroko tree
I have seen winds and waves
I have stood the storms and thunder,
Yet, at my feet lies Onu-iyi-ama
The little lovely lake of spring,
Where sits a swimming pool for kids.
Everyday, I see kids come and go,
Happy that they can swim and play.
I am like Duru-ejowe’s rock, yes!
I am like the rock of Gibraltar
I have seen the harshest weathers
And the wildest beasts of the jungle,
Yet, at my feet flows the cleanest water,
And everyday, many in need do come,
To Stoop and fetch my gifts of spring
Happy that enough does flow for all.
I am like Ala, the earth, yes!
I am the ground on which you stand.
I carry all that is placed on me,
Yet, I bother no one to carry me.
You may try to run the best you can,
A mile or two or a nation far,
I am, and will be there under your feet.
Happy despite your march and pounds.
I am like Ugbua, the moment now.
I have seen the past meet the future,
I have seen ages come and go, and
Generations of people born and die.
In me, on me, events take their place.
Yes! I am what time is to change,
I am ageless as well as timeless,
And surely too, I am always there.
Teide, at three thousand metres,
a honeycomb of rock and air,
cold weightless pumice.
Lizards who’ve seen rocks rise
watch them fall as the sun grows.
The air locks in the chill.
Weakly we crouch on tuff,
thinned for the thinning air.
Teide, this lunar silence
turns us too to stone.
Each nugget refuses to yield
a crumb of sand.
No one nods at the sagacious
planting of a shadow.
The lizards do not come out
but multiply without moving.
The naked child
Bend if you can to the dark sea forgetting
the flute’s sound on naked feet
that trod your sleep in the other, the sunken life.
Write if you can on your last shell
the day the place the name
and fling it into the sea so that it sinks.
We found ourselves naked on the pumice stone
watching the rising islands
watching the red islands sink
into their sleep, into our sleep.
Here we found ourselves naked, holding
the scales that tipped toward injustice.
Instep of power, unshadowed will, considered love,
projects that ripen in the midday sun,
course of fate with a young hand
slapping the shoulder;
in the land that was scattered, that can’t resist,
in the land that was once our land
the islands, –rust and ash– are sinking.
and friends forgotten
leaves of the palm tree in mud.
Let your hands go traveling if you can
here on time’s curve with the ship
that touched the horizon.
When the dice struck the flagstone
when the lance struck the breast-plate
when the eye recognized the stranger
and love went dry
in punctured souls;
when looking round you see
feet harvested everywhere
dead hands everywhere
eyes darkened everywhere;
when you can’t any longer choose
even the death you wanted as your own–
hearing a cry,
even the wolf’s cry,
let your hands go traveling if you can
free yourself from unfaithful time
So sinks whoever raises the great stones.