(For Emmanuel Okwor Agu)
There are tears for the brook from which I draw
waters of identity, sounds of my tongue
and the story of my name.
I mourn the land of light plunged into darkness
before the first gasp of my third birthday
condemning me to three decades of fugitive life -
even in the bowels of the whale
that crushed and swallowed my homeland,
entombed its banner of The Rising Sun.
I move forward but get nowhere. Attempts
to heal knock toes on stumbling rocks.
Even my Northern sojourn along dusty streets
of Kaduna and Kano, butchering sites
of children of the light, tell of my fretting feet
urged on by hope that out of the ashes of war
unity may sprout. Even this sojourn of reconciliation
is determined by a flight through a crack in the wall
of another slaughtering saga as zealous knives
slashed in defence of gods and mowed down
my brothers like weeds that defiled the gardens
of hallowed grounds.
This is still our story! Time has failed to heal
wounds inflicted by pictures of spattered flesh
that grinned at us from bloodied mantelpieces.
We have yet to learn to sleep, daily reliving
mighty explosions and their afterglow
frozen in malignant memories.
These are cocktails of misery for me in limbo,
my bleeding heels wounded by time, unsure
that I have reason enough to love that whale
in whose intestine I grope, in the dark,
desperately gasping for air.
- Nnorom Azuonye
©2003 Nnorom Azuonye. All rights reserved
“Dead Sun” was first published in Orbis —
Quarterly International Literary Journal
No. 130, Autumn 2004