why did I despair for the words to describe you?
why was this world, since you left,
a large ashtray for dreams?
Come mother mine
of the canny laughter
that mellows raging beasts into wagging tails,
set that joy right here where it hurts
-I’ve been herding gloom
since your presence fled that afternoon
when the eclipse of your laughter froze in place.
The meteor strike of death
'that planted, scattered you across the earth'
has me wandering far and wide
seeking harvest from a sprouting you,
Here is a constant sea
looking to cast a perfect wave
to cleanse her beach
of every foreign thing.
Just missing perfection,
she retreats patiently, and casts her net again;
and again, and
again... here’s a face of patient you,
looking to salving every hurt
In your chest of faith.
So curl, enfold, the waxen wick of you
deep in the lamp of memory.
You are not dead, dear Mama,
merely recoiled into the tank of earth.
Memory holds you now, Mama.
While we live, you live.
And in the bleakest darkest dreariest dawns
in which it seems the sun and moon and earth
are frozen in a black eclipse,
forgive me if I discomfit your rest
and draw you out from memory
to cast your lighted eyes,
broad like the girth of a small sea’s surf,
calm like her rolling waves that
upon the cliffs of adversity,
and heave that seismic sigh of yours
that fills the hungry with the husk of faith,
to assure me,as you always do:
‘The bigger swallows the fish, my child.
Tomorrow comes, the bigger fish.
© Chuma Nwokolo Jr
- Chuma Nwokolo Jr read Azu Kalia Azu (The Greater Fish Swallows the Smaller) during Word From Africa @ the British Museum on 2nd June 2007.
- Used with permission