I once met a painter in Borno
who said things I couldn’t hear
because I didn’t speak the language of water;
who said he painted his filigrees and bamboo works
with two hearts and a soul in light of King Goje, circa 1439;
who sent daughters of widows to science school;
Who said he painted his Fulani women
with beaks and wings because their languages: Fulfulde,
Kanuri, Kananci, Guduranci were not in words,
but in water and in song;
Who said not even bombs and their mournful tidings—
The forceful gospel of fire and such rust
Could unmake water, could unmake song.
Gbenga Adesina lives and writes in Nigeria. He was a 2015 Open society for West Africa foundation resident poet in Goree Island. His Chapbook, edited by Kwame Dawes is set to be published in the New Generation African poets series by University of Nebraska Lincoln and Akashic books.
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