May the traveller’s feet be light

 

Dawn has broken upon us like
fate, and the fare-fowl that
proclaims the light of this day
must not forget that like the tortoise
that taunts the hungry snake, both
are food to the hunter.

This day, this light
breaks upon us many voices
voices of stars that wail
even the moon this morning wears
a mourning cloth.

And our fathers
their tears beneath sagging eye-sheds
sinking into their wrinkled
faces, into their departing souls

mothers must not cry mildly
they burst out in tears
like the loosed sea

they wrap soft dew, gathered
from the face of fine flowers,
in leaves of white
as comforting songs to clear
this darkness

the elders have grabbed the
fare-fowl by its neck
they pull each feather
as they lay the seed in the womb of the earth.
‘Ofe, Ofe’
they pray the traveller’s feet
are light.

 
 
 

Author’s Note: “May the traveller’s feet be light’ is actually a dirge for the death of “Dawn”, a young promising child. The poem opens with lines describing the inevitability of death, both of the killer and the killed, which is a poetic rendition of a Yoruba proverb. Allusions are also made to the Yoruba proverbial sayings. The poem ends however echoing the Yoruba ritual of defeathering a fare-fowl to give the dead lighter feet to travel through the clouds. Hence, a prayer: May the traveller’s feet be light.

 

Ernest O. Ogunyemi writes from Nigeria. A short story writer and poet, his works have appeared in magazines and blogs such as NaijaStories, Tuck, Parousia, Acumen Issue 91, AfricanWriter, and are forthcoming in the Kalahari Review, the BPPC Poetry anthology (2018). He was a top ten finalist in the BPPC May Poetry contest, for his poem This Dream and was long listed earlier this year for the Art Prompt Writing Contest for his three-hundred-word story Without Life, which later appeared on his blog: ernestiyanda.wordpress.com. When he is not writing he is reading or dreaming or listening to Brymo or watching the beautiful cover of great books, they have a healing-feel to the mind.

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