Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Song About What Happens

(For The Minstrel, Esiaba Irobi)

This is the song I told you about,
in the vernacular of spirit
channelled through men like me
lyrics unfettered chip and stir,
then from recesses blow veils away
until lives presumed ordinary
yield unusual stories.

The song rises equally -
for the first breath, and
the certain stillness afterwards;

women whose brows bear kaolin art
dance and ululate through the village.
Where a cry of infancy rises,
there is relief; the woman
with a swollen belly was, thankfully,
only heavy with life.

Men stand in small groups,
to dirge forth fallen kin through
the gateway of ancestral lodges,
the seat of justice.

The song rises for feet that kiss,
feet that shuffle by still, or
rolling feet, on life's dance floor -
when birds and insects sing to unite
the animate and the inanimate,
cousins in one universe.

Do chairs know people sit on them?
Do aeroplanes know they fly?
Do cars know they are driven by men?

Why do lips and heels crack in the harmattan?
Why do crocuses sprout in springtime?
Why do birds lay eggs and humans don't?
Why do men raise arms against men?
Why do we grow old and die?
Why do we cry when a loved on dies?

This song enslaves me
in waking hours,
the story of life couched in rhythms
of screams and silences,
fear and fun.

Listen to the beats…
they are alive, punching tongues
unto paths of honour,
new ways of thinking,
these beats, optimistic, hopeful,
celebrate pockets of friendship;
survivors of unnecessary wars
and hardship.

This song, a journey into the core
of breath, is sometimes just that –
a song, meaning nothing,
like morning breeze
cool and fresh in the face.

This is the song I told you about,
mirror to my face, and the core?
If there is hope and joy
in the lines of our faces,
let there be laughter.
If there is fear and sadness
in the lines of our faces,
let there be tears.

I am a songwriter,
and all I have is this song.

by Nnorom Azuonye

Dr Esiaba Irobi went into transition on May 3, 2010. You can read my tribute to him in Next on Sunday here:

"A Song about What Happens" was first published in Other Voices International e-Anthology vol. 15. (November 6, 2005)

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