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
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, spying; bodies want to love, but cannot. who’ll seek freedom for the world through the doors’ keyholes?
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