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“To live long enough to ripen” by Nathanael Noah

“To live long enough to ripen” by Nathanael Noah

To live long enough to ripen

That it’d be said:
“She fulfilled all the days of her life.”

Then talking drums, rattles and flutes
Shall be unhung from rafters and walls

     Pestles will pound fufu
In gigantic mortars
Wooden ladles would stir bush meat in red oil
It’ll be a ceremony to the pantheon
A goddess is bade farewell

She sits here stone deaf to the music of the present
Lost in thoughts of which I have not the         faintest idea

    My dearest kaka,
Does she recall those days of youth, beauty, and     adventure?
Could she be celebrating her uncommon     achievements in her mind?
Could she be imagining her place amongst the     spirits?
Or does she regret her vain sojourn among     mortals?

        It’s dark
Very black
        It’s not the dead of night
      Or poor plant victims of blight
      Withering quickly in mid-season.

   No. No. No.
No, it’s not the loud silence
Filling the clogging air
 While the starless sky hangs
Helpless overhead.
It’s not the muffled boom of dane guns
Sounding far away
Yet shot from Kaka’s backyard.

    It was the night of the bird.

    Kaka shall return next year.
You who are barren  
Don’t be empty anymore
Your time has come
Kaka will come again.

    The dead abide with us.   
They are gone from naked eyes
To the place of better ties.
Listen, be still and listen
There’s a dance atop the tree.
Listen, be still and listen
There’s music in the air
It’s a reception for Kaka
It’s time for renascence.

You who wail
Weep no more.
See, if you can, beyond the roof
A bird perches on a branch
She sits quietly, unperturbed.

When it’s said, ‘an owl is in the tree,
Look, an evil bird sits in the tree.’
Let the voice within reply,
‘Stay becalmed, little children,
Kaka returns to us.’


    Tread quietly my brother,
You just came from earth realm.
Do not make a sound
In Udei
No one is around
In Udei.

    The village fled the blades 
Of marauders
We bequeathed Udei to those who sneaked at     night;
The cut-throats who cut skulls and pregnant     wombs.
They slit and slashed with relish and glee.

    Udei sits sombrely in the sun
Of life and laughter
Of love and levity.
O, Udei, the village whose soul is sacked.

It was here we sat
The mango tree at noon.
We told the tales of Zamfara, Borno, Taraba, and Plateau
Now, we mourn our own Benue.

    It was here men
Were free
To rattle
And dance
With the wind.
It was here women sang and danced

            In the wind.
It was good wind.
Sit quietly, dear brother.
We sit and wait their return from the lands of  their     Sojourn.
We have gone and come
To sit and wait for them.

We can go and come as we please
We will watch the streams
We will watch the bush paths
We will watch the hills
We will watch the farm lands
We will be the gods they shall sing when they     return.

That cave in the hill
Is ours to share
In the evening or early morn
They come at will
To the crossroads to pour libation.
Kolanuts and white cowries
These and others will appease.
We, now, are the gods they’ll look upon.

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