(To be read accompanied with the slow rhythm of udu)
(The poet’s face expresses sorrow. He is fighting back sobs as he speaks.)
It was the cry of ikwikwi that stirred me out of bed,
Then thought I saw you.
Perhaps, I was transfixed between the worlds of dreams
And wakefulness, for I saw your deep eyes so fixed on me.
But I hear the blast of egbe, it was no dream after all.
Ede uri, so this is true?
Have you really joined those on the other side?
You didn’t tell me this, dike m,
That you’ll eat your dinner on the other side.
If I had known,
I would have bid you a proper goodbye.
O Asasaba! I beg you, ferry him well.
(Here the poet expresses great anguish. He jabs his fist at an unseen foe)
Onwu, it was you who lost
For his words echo still.
He is a man who dines with the muses,
Wisdom hangs on his lines.
(Here, the poet’s face lights up)
Greet them for me,
The departed sages of times gone,
Who told us things fall apart,
for they are no longer at ease.
Greet them I say,
Who took us through the passage of dark waters
to stand naked before our mother, Idoto;
Greet all who taught us to fight our wars with words.
(The poet becomes sober and resigned)
But for you, we fire the egbe twenty and one times.
Goodnight, till we meet in the land where Death no longer roams,
Ede uri, goodnight.
Written in memory of Ikeogu Oke
Asasaba– the ferryman who transports good souls to the other world
Ede uri– poet
Dike m– my mighty man
Udu– Igbo pottery drum
Egbe- gun used to announce a death
Idoto– water goddess
Adejuwon Gbalajobi writes from Lagos State, Nigeria. He is a poet, short story writer and essayist. His poems have been published in magazines like Writers Space Africa, Praxis Magazine Online, and Okada blog.