I come from a generation of tillers,
landscrapers. My forebears built the first structure
to scrape the sky in this country.
The orature calls their hoes clippers.
Calls them barbers of earth,
men – merry – who till & till
until they can’t but rest their arms upon a stump.
Calls the structure – Abagogoro* –
a spectacle that makes caps fall,
for the king’s crown falls off
when he raises & raises his head
to behold a wonder.

In this poem, Grandfather walks barefoot
on the narrow path to his farm on a September morning
whistling, bugling:
on my right, moist grasses greet my arm gently gently,
on my left, moist grasses greet my arm gently gently,
morning dew rinses my feet,
morning dew rinses my soles.
In this country, cling-clang of cutlasses
straightening crooked hoes wakes our birds.
This land does not give to dogs, what belongs to men.

At the village primary school,
we’re birds every spring morn–
a choir led by prefects –
singing, frolicking as we swarm like bees
to manicure the lawns:
pick, birds, pick
loot, early birds, loot
the owner of this farm isn’t an early riser.

*A mud house with thatch roof woven to heavens.


Photo by Luis del Río from Pexels