Friday, May 20, 2016

Adesola Oladoja writes


Thou radiant child with glittering eyes
Cherished by parents, loved by the Lord
Your entrance brings whispers of joy
The strangers we so seek to welcome

You evening moon that runs out soon
To evade the bright morning rays
A friend of gloom, allianced to doom
A foe of winter's finest norms

The prodigal son that forbade return
The wayward daughter that eloped with the night
Yearning for more pods, more time in bed
What chiefdom have thou away from home ?

Abiku, die and let your death be swift
Die to those things that eternal slumber brings

 Dream of the Abiku Child -- Prince Twins Seven Seven

1 comment:

  1. The Yoruba of Nigeria have an unusually high incidence of twins, coupled with high infant mortality rates. Abiku are the spirits of children who die before reaching puberty and are also the spirit, or spirits, who caused the death. The word can be translated as "predestined to death" and comes from “abi” (that which possesses) and “iku” (death). To end the cycle, mothers consult special divination priests to employ ceremonies and medicines to convince the children to remain in the community.

    Wole Soyinka: “Abiku”

    In vain your bangles cast
    Charmed circles at my feet
    I am Abiku, calling for the first
    And repeated time.
    Must I weep for goats and cowries
    For palm oil and sprinkled ask?
    Yams do not sprout amulets
    To earth Abiku's limbs.
    So when the snail is burnt in his shell,
    Whet the heated fragment, brand me
    Deeply on the breast - you must know him
    When Abiku calls again.
    I am the squirrel teeth, cracked
    The riddle of the palm; remember
    This, and dig me deeper still into
    The god's swollen foot.
    Once and the repeated time, ageless
    Though I puke, and when you pour
    Libations, each finger points me near
    The way I came, where
    The ground is wet with mourning
    White dew suckles flesh-birds
    Evening befriends the spider, trapping
    Flies in wine-froth;
    Night, and Abiku sucks the oil
    From lamps. Mothers! I'll be the
    Suppliant snake coiled on the doorstep
    Yours the killing cry.
    The ripest fruit was saddest
    Where I crept, the warmth was cloying.
    In silence of webs, Abiku moans, shaping
    Mounds from the yolk.

    Kukogho Iruesiri Samson: A Cackle for Your Cries (a response to Soyinka’s Abiku )

    You have come,
    That never overstays.
    I laugh at your cries;
    An echo of the first time
    You rented
    My now weary womb.

    Do you see tears
    In my eyes?
    No, the wells therein are
    Drier than the desert sand.

    This time, I pour no libation,
    For the gods
    Are drunk from my river
    Of prayer gin.

    I hold a lamp in my hands
    The snake at the door
    Shall be crushed
    Before it strikes my heels

    And I shall pair your cry with a cackle
    For the child that says
    His mother shall not sleep
    Must not his eyelids close.

    Do not expect goats and cowries;
    My yams are dry
    And the barns are empty
    From your many comings.

    No longer shall I be
    The ripe palm kernel
    That lies in wait
    For the squirrel’s teeth.

    So in my barrenness
    Shall I find fruit.
    For we shall not call the river another name
    Because it has no fish.

    And the elder shall not
    Call the cow Baba
    To get beef
    For his teeth to chew.

    I shall deny you the warmth
    Of the god’s swollen foot-
    Is the vultures’ belly
    Not grave enough?

    Hear my words through your cries;
    Tell them when you go again,
    That I wait. Yes, I wait,
    To marry a cackle to your cries.

    J. P. Clark: Abiku

    Coming and going these several seasons,
    Do stay out on the baobab tree,
    Follow where you please your kindred spirits
    If indoors is not enough for you.
    True, it leaks through the thatch
    When flood brim the banks,
    And the bats and the owls
    Often tear in at night through the eaves,
    And at harmattan, the bamboo walls
    Are ready tinder for the fire
    That dries the fresh fish up on the rack.
    Still, it's been the healthy stock
    To several fingers, to many more will be
    Who reach to the sun.
    No longer then bestride the threshold
    But step in and stay
    For good. We know the knife scars
    Serrating down your back and front
    Like beak of the sword-fish,
    And both your ears, notched
    As a bondsman to this house,
    Are all relics of your first comings.
    Then step in, step in and stay
    For her body is tired,
    Tired, her milk going sour
    Where many more mouths gladden the heart.


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