Countless cowries have been tossed and tossed
on countless shrines; countless kola-nuts broken and chewed;
countless gourds of palm-wine poured beneath palm fronds
to search out your place in the hands of destiny!
We have seen the magic of the moon
in your eyes, twinkling with silvery illumination of love.
Countless times, we have seen the milk of your breasts
flowing like palm-wine from the gourds of life.
And we have, countless times, heard the music of your heart
titillating with the thrills of tranquil nights.
Countless times, we have seen the light of your soul
glow like the fires from the pit of this calabash.
But tell us why widows lie with bereaved brooms
in the midnight? Tell us why only blood
gush from your black breasts when young lips
run with hungry-innocent eyes to your lap?
Tell us why we love to dance
to the disharmony of war drums?
Tell us! Tell us why we no longer hear drums of thunder
after flashes of lightning? And no rain
after dark clouds…Tell us!
…my pen shall bleed
the last drop of its dark blood,
through this labyrinth with solitary lamentations –
For I am lost in your images
as yet more cowries are tossed to unveil
the black face of my virgin bride
Whom I made love to in the moonlight
But found no blood on her white garment at dawn
(From my forthcoming book, Colourless Rainbow: Poetry of My Childhood, ‘Tell Us’ is dedicated to the Golden Jubilee celebration on the occasion of Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1).