These are the times
We are in dark times, my love.
The morning still sweet in the awful sepia sky &
I can see war women through my misty window,
Reciting the rosary on a front porch.
Somewhere, at the back of a house,
A drum softly thunders & the
Dead come to the eyes before light. Some
Paths are there to remind a man of love—
Where the dogs go in circles till happiness
Becomes the black spot swirling in his cheek.
We are in hard times, beloved. The children
In Makoko will learn to swim before they
Begin to carry names over their shoulders.
The water is a wayfarer, & so are the fishermen
At dusk waiting on god to cast their net over the bounty,
Women on canoes selling food, trading between stilts,
While taking joy in little sips. The country beyond the shore
Still stands where you left it, the muddy roads
Littered with dumps, broken men in shanty
Colonies bellowing their hallelujahs from a shared joint.
Beside a seven-seater bus, there are young men with
Mouths full of blood & bodies ruined with exit holes—
You ask & someone tells you to keep walking, you ask
Again & a policeman threatens to fuck you up with
His last bullet. The news will run through the country like
A gazelle chasing survival. & when you lie down to sleep
Darkness will creep into your ear, you’ll touch your lips &
There’ll be desert dunes forming against it. Here, the moon will
Pare itself until it bleeds ash to scythe the sequined night.
These are hard days, my love. A mother’s breast holds no
Milk & she places salt on her tongue to make one last attempt.
I have seen the houses with red roofs in Idanre, & how they leak the
Father’s secret when the first rain pours. Hear me, there are children whose
Only desire is love—to polish their miseries till it begins to silver.
Take this body down to the basin, imitate the woman with a basket
Of clothes, scrubbing them on rocks, lift water onto your face, wash off
the blood splatter of this world.