A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko - RC2HQE9QM0PQ

Poems written in the time of Corona – Obemata


farther away from home,
nearer home,
the news gallops
like the speed of light
and arrives
at the continents’
shut doors –
the world is hiding.
between the keyholes,
eyes press up
against time,
bodies want to love,
but cannot.
who’ll seek freedom
for the world
through the doors’


it is another day,
let’s wave hands,
not at each other
but at the wind constantly changing course
and bearing sad news,
the streams flowing differently,
weeping for the earth and the sky
adorned in sackcloths.
the streams aren’t tired of weeping,
nor is the wind tired of changing course.
tears well up,
while the wind changes,
changes and changes course,
and roams endlessly
like a vagrant.
let’s not forget the earth,
though innocence is a recent memory.
there’s no hope of morning,
only the testaments of night,
sackcloths that spread
and gather in eyes,
where light should have been.
this day is different.
the wind’s footsteps fall
where tears drench the earth.
let’s wave hands
not at each other
but at the lone egret migrating to another future.
let’s not count the white spots
on our nails
as we used to do as children –
counting is useless.
rather, let the eyes of our hands
follow the egret’s flight
to the future,
safer than this present.


why seek my hand
in handshake
when you can wave
through the window?
the times have changed.
i have forgotten how to shake hands,
or exchange hugs.
silence befriends me behind closed door
and preserves the memory of love unrequited,
while this isolation lasts.
behind this door,
these will be my memories of the times tomorrow:
fear that has taken hold of my country;
corona advancing each day,
and searching for those it missed;
children who have lost their fathers,
mothers and uncles,
weeping with the ocean’s eyes;
the hearts that seek love
they cannot now give or receive.
for now, the day is a mirror-image of silence,
loneliness, where fear grows
and name my fears
and i wave, wave and wave through the window
at the world,
transfixed like the statue.
of all the hands of the world,
you seek mine.


who wails? who is wailing?
who can’t be consoled?

my mother country.

from tears
life will be reborn.

photo credit
About the Poet: Obemata, a lawyer and poet, is the author of the book of poems, Triptych. His works are represented in several online poetry journals and anthologies, including the recently released “Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi (Uchechukwu Umezurike & Nduka Otiono, Edited). His second book of poems, ‘Book of Soliloquies’, is forthcoming.

At thisislagos.ng we do not publish poetry because our intention is to privilege critical engagement over all else. But since the Covid-19 pandemic hit we have been received a deluge of poetry submissions and so in the next few weeks we will be publishing poems beginning with Tanure Ojeide, one of Africa’s greatest living poets. We are making this exception because these works commend themselves to us as meditation, therapy and documentation and so important for these fraught times. – Editors

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date