photo credit: Imageries and Events, used with permission of photographer & participant

For the rite of womanhood

I hear drums summoning your feet
into spaces where women
change their waists to rivers,
and youths dance vigorously
creating waves with their limbs,
She comes in procession of singers
barefooted woman,
dancer submerged in music,
swing, swing on,
the waist is praised for ripples made in the arena.
I see you dancing with the elite class
Interweaving skill and passion
I see you greeting the drummers too
and waving them, weldone!
Woman, smile of the purple sun
Ah! You must be tired from countless steps
from the suppressive weight of beads
and heaps of heavy wears
but tarry, tarry, the drums are damping down
Into silence.

Noon, I hear drums clinging again into decibels,
fast, tempest, like starved rain
and hordes of delighted people rush in
interweaving oceans and winds.

Night, you must return
For the crowd is ready
Ready cheer you up, homeward.

*Iriabo: a woman undergoing the formal traditional Initiation into womanhood. Prominent among the Bonny, Kalabari, Opobo, and Okrika people of Rivers State Nigeria.

Fubaraibi Benstowe hails from Bonny Kingdom, Rivers State Nigeria and attended the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State, where he obtained a degree in Electrical/Electronic Engineering. His poetry works has been published in Praxis, Nigeria/South-Korea Poetry anthology, Mariner ANA Bayelsa literary Magazine and other publications. In 2014 he was a guest poet at the Ake Art and Book Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun State, top ten finalist in the Africa-Wide BN Poetry Award Uganda in 2014, and in 2016 was longlisted for same Award.

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