A Poem by Femi Oyebode

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‘Who shall now tell of my joy! From her shoulders to her waist, how fair is her proportion! When she moves, she is like branches waved by a gentle breeze. Silks from India are less soft than her skin; and her form, though noble, is timid as the fawn’

                                                                     Mohammed El-K’anemy 1821

You dared to lift my veil and I shuddered in fear

Who was this man, this flash of lightning?
I shut my eyes and your steady eyes seized me
You said what men are wont to say
My forehead, my nose, my lips, my eyes
But say it all over again, what is my vanity to my thirst
I have counted the hours, each moment
And gazed from behind the wall praying for you
Waiting for the cold, dry wind to pass
Now I step out a fawn in the morning dew
The grassland forever like my heart
Awaiting the rains and at last here you are.

All this fighting, how many have you seized to slavery
The road from Kuka to Kano must be where Death travels
Reaping what the mothers have sown, is that not
Sorrow and barrenness, it is also our honour shining
But, how much dust at the same time?
At the gates of Ngala, death in a hundred spears
Pinned down the Mai under a tree
He turned his head to one side, hid his head
Under a shawl, it was also our honour shining
We do not talk of embracing, the fire that warmed you
And the lips colder than the purest water
Both only a shy fawn timid in the grass.


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