photograph by Shannon Hopkins

CRACKED BRIDGE

 

This bridge was once a resting and dwelling place
For home-based butterflies, snails, snakes, sea birds
And many sweet fishes like those in the sea
An ecosystem of mangrove and mango trees
Of dancing leaves and all that live free

This bridge had a tree with pure spring water
For the community to ease its thirst
It never drained of water, it never caused disaster
At the other side it had a small temple
For religious migrants to kneel and pray to their maker

This bridge had built itself a firm fascinated fan base
A fiancé and fiancée base
Female fish traders wished to marry this fellow
Because of its cool atmosphere
And palatable aroma

This bridge never drained of visitors
Old lizards and foreign monkeys you could see
Many white people came here just to take photos
Interesting photos of colourful young lizards romancing
Of birds dancing, kissing in the trees

This bridge had a signboard that said
Do not fight here! Do not use abusive language here!
Do not steal from a friend on this bridge! Do not tell lies on this bridge!
But you are absolutely free, like those sea birds and tree birds
To kiss on this bridge

This bridge could see and feel like you and me
With strong passions to serve its people
Do you want to see this bridge?
Oh, I wish you could have seen this bridge
You would forget the land of your birth

This bridge was built by foreign people; the Chinese
It was called King Kong, the strongest
It allowed heavy loaded trucks to pass through
Like a rap artist passing awareness messages on vocals
But now this bridge is weak, swaying like a drunkard

Now this bridge has safety signs that read
Do not sit on the rail when it rains!
Watch out! Do not go there!
It is dangerous!
Go back please!

 
 

Cleffy is the pen name of Sierra Leonean poet and musician Ibrahim Sorie Bangura. Born in 1992 in a subsistence farming village in the Northern province of Lungi, he grew up speaking Themne, Susu, and Krio as well as English. In 2011 he migrated to the capital Freetown to escape rural poverty. After surviving on the streets for several years he joined WAYout (Worldwide Arts for Youth) where he now studies creative writing and music production. In 2017 he was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers Adda poetry commission and in 2018 he had a poem published in the international online literary magazine Write the City. He is currently working on a poetry project supported by the Prince Claus Fund. Cleffy’s writing reflects his deep affection and respect for the oral story telling traditions of his village home overlaid with the rhymes and rhythms of urban street youth culture.

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