THE CRADLE I (ISSUE 8)

THE CRADLE I (ISSUE 8)

TWO POEMS | Aire Joshua Omotayo

A VERSE FOR MY COUNTRY 

our mother’s womb was a page
in a night’s cloak, where no deer got to spew its ink,
without seeking for headlights with torches
of broken languages scattered across its mouth.

her womb was a church, where dirge gleamed
the mouths of choirs, with psalms of divers tongues,
beating the drums of ears with cymbals of confusion
broken across facades for our feet to tread.

her breasts were cities in our mouths,
with the sky brewing black waters from the spring of nothingness
the nipples pierced our tongues with burning streams
wetting every buds with dialects of ancient writings
splattered across our walls like the mark of a beast,
making the buds of our tongues fight one another
while they confessed that we were just a mural on a war sheet.

but the sheet was watered with the blood of our fathers,
making our name a smile on the wrinkles of pilgrims
and all we could do were to sleep in their veins
in the nights when the moon gave their lips a taste of light,
as we coursed through their bloodstreams in search of fire
to torch the weeds that sprout on our boundaries

remember the night we were born by the bank of the Niger river
remember our mother’s screams, as her womb gapped open
and whispered our name – Nigeria – to the ears of the wind
remember how the sun and moon stood still,
how the stars held their twinkles in the palms of joy.
remember the blood she shed when her veins
clotted the pains into fortified territories
remember how the Niger river welcomed her,
with the gift from Benue river, into the confluence of unity.

we were kids walking like snails, we were vessels
in the hollowed corridors of marrows, engulfed into the pouch
of twilight breeze, while we walked our footpaths
into the silence of the forest, painting the pages
of the trees with freedom, with the rustling leaves
and the chirping insects announcing our names to the world.

but then, while we beat the drums of victory –
with their gurgling gong echoing our strength to the walls
of oppressions – you popped away your hands from the percussive
skin and the rhythm tilted like a boat in a stormy sea,
the dance steps became fire on the heels of our talking drums
while the beats became a broken wall where the echoes
reflected our voices into a different name and then another
sun – Biafra – was cloned from the very skin that
covered our vessels from fires of war.

we became a land of shattered bones,
while our broken skin creaked against our flesh.
we became a sky where two suns shone,
while the eclipse burnt our maps and carved a broken road
on the ruins that bear the voices of our anthem

those anthems have become a dirge,
waiting on the shores of our throat with elegies
of moonlight tunes playing on the edges of broken strings

our land is now home to wars,
wails of pain is now a lipstick on our women’s lips,
blood is now a liquor for the belly of our men
while the children have found a home in the confines
of vacant spaces, resting on the palms of a dead future.

here I am on the hard cushions of an autopsy,
the hands of the wind are upon my chest, pressed against my ribs
to save me when I drowned in empty rivers,
all that is left for me are echoes singing in my bones
and gasps smearing my lips with words of hopes
and this is my will on this perilous land…
“Oh Nigeria and Biafra, draw nigh to the tomb of thy fathers
and see their tears sticking to the graves like combs of honey,
see their sweat colouring them like butterfly wings.
Then look into your eyes, hold one another in a welcoming
embrace and let your past dissolve into a goodbye song,
let your bones echo our smiles into the wrinkles
of ONE NIGERIA!”

 

SONG OF SONGS 
Aduke, I shed my ink, not on stones
But on the fleshy tables of your heart
In you, I found a home not built by hands
But the words spoken before time began
My lips are sounding the gongs of time
As I sing this Song of Songs that tingled the walls of Jericho

The waves of nature swept my dizzy spine
And I slept into the cradle of the soil – Where I came from
Ah! Alas! A rib is gone from my shelf
That rib turned into a word and echoed your name
Into my flesh, blood and bones
We became two naked words entwined in tangles of love
Staring at the river of warmth without shame

You were a bone carved from the clay of words
Soft and strong were you, laced with the breath of life
I walked through the valley of the shadow of death
And all I saw was a lily as white as the milk
Flowing on the rock of sages
Your hips were like the shape of a rainbow
That calmed the turbulence of my flooding heart

At this labyrinthine twilight
My shadow has wandered to find its love
But here we are in a packet full of souls
With the river flowing in you and I,
We became a confluence of soothing springs
Echoing into moans of ecstasies
Smearing the nights with fragrance of warmth
While our seeds await a welcome banquet

I rest upon the twin towers that guard your chest
For therein I find solace of a thousand years
I looked through your eyes – the window of your heart
All I saw were beds of roses designed into ridges
And then, I felt an assembly of butterflies,
Marching through my stomach
And when I felt the taste of your lips
The sweet savour of wine led the butterflies into your heart
And then there was pollination of a thousand songs

 

IMG_20170715_172326Aire Joshua Omotayo is a student of the University of Ibadan. He made the list of top 100 entrants of the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize. His works have appeared in diverse journals both home and abroad.

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