“We have learned, like these birds, to publish our decline”
And, for you, it could be this
simple: the gesture of your body, once
attuned to the logic of touch, alert,
formerly, to the world and the sum of its din.
Or that, here, although the murals are made
luminous by the dearth of men, and the queues
shedding their feigned permanence, it seems a trance,
considering memory’s log: What leavened
the thrill daily was a nod or the sibilant hail of kin,
in that coming and going of strangers, and the
commune of backs bent over machines and texts,
the sounds of copiers nudging the milieu in the wake.
Tiny roses often blossom
when you smile.
We have become one air,
one ripple of moving water.
To earliest friends/For ‘Bàbá Ilẹ̀ Ìpàdé’
I turn, once more, to that Assembly Hall
and the tangled moments sans a sheltered gaze.
In this version, comrades, our furtive walks
to that expanse do not outrank
the doting guard and his familiar lexicon.
Praise to his open arms and fruit gifts.
Praise, too, to his magic of measuring time
by the shift of the sun, and to those worn
copies of Awake! and The Watchtower,
his flailing arms and sermon to winds:
“A máa pàdé níbo o? Páá-ráá-díí-sè!” *
What songs did we raise for the old man
and all kind men we knew—
our fathers’ friends, our friends’ fathers?
*We shall meet where? Paradise
‘Gbenga Adeoba was born in Akure, Nigeria. He is the author of Exodus (University of Nebraska Press, 2020) and a chapbook Here is Water (APBF/Akashic books, 2019).