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By Nebeolisa Okwudili

Friday, September 21, 2012.

Retracing Steps

We are retracing steps, finding a spirit of our own
Retracing, we find steps we’ve long ago condoned
Behaving like children, nagging too much for attention
Sobbing silently when we find what value we’ve long lost.

Our precocity has surged like adrenaline, too aching
For whoever is with us, we have seen a hemlock and wished
Blinded by its immaculateness, but are chided from touching
Shouted at when we picked spades and bore them into the ground.

Retracing steps, we are like abiku without tracing-scars
Who they have never for spilled offerings at the feet of graves
Coming back is the sunniest thing in one lifetime, returning another
Just as sunny. But recovering is cold and dark like peaty underneath earth.
In the past, we thought the future was an infinity
But having retraced, we see the past was only a short rope
A few inches. Retracing bring us back to see there’s not much
That has changed from the present and bygone traced to, a still river.


A thousand plates
For two thousand people
At the refugee camp –
The half can go
Six hundred of them
In a score thousands
Plagued with AIDS:
Push the hundred
Down to Africa’s horn. Clothes
From a decade thousand
Families who’d thought they cared
But are quick to forget
Whose four kids were off
To the building sites.
A hundred to a thousand
Are now bloodied
Under rugged landscapes.
Droopy-eyed child
Under the care of a vulture
Is like a singular plate
In a carton, cracked
Or a spoilt tomato in a basket
That can be tossed
To turn black and vanish.
A dozen innocent patriots
Between cell walls,
Eyes bleached with darkness.
Fingers in a plate
Were merely three decades
If they were six
People –
A meal meant mainly for two.
The numbers of foeta
Recoiled to the cradle
May be twelve, hourly,
The twelve partitions
In an orange, or the months
That spear the year.
So to who counts these things:
The tiny raindrops, discordant songs
They are tangoing on roofs,
How they split from the big
Ball like a sheet
Thin threads of lights
Silver and flecked,
How many holes
They dig into the ground.


Still on the growing from
the tender to the adult.
What nice reminiscence of one
when bred in the peer cult
of things done in bundle and ritually
in the rural well of naturalism.
When with weaning the ones puberty in,
things done in as wholly joined
and communism of synodical youth
when strength was growing to be prime.
Awake from the slumbering night
to a morn born anew to meet us,
we wash our mouths to set the belt to munch
and following that which is alternative:
go with the head to his toil
or go with the type of ours to fun,
go vagabond about and undecided,
pick and pluck what fruit befalls,
set out in groups to game
and when it seems monotony, discarded;
a novel thought is welcomed and tried
or the girls be sought in attention
as nice to see them in chase away
or shouting for funny foster from elders,
clinging and clutching their parts
also in amusing movements or act,
of course to our delight and humour
till the bowels go vacant and wanting,
each hurries to our progenitor’s place
and back again are we bundled
in the same cut manner
till the pendulum is turned to night
back again.

Nebeolisa Okwudili is a student at Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria. His short stories have appeared in a series by the Latin Heritage Foundation.

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