Abiku

Colder than the breath of Iku himself
egbon has come, slippery as an eel yet again
with mien as a shield
immune to the loud silence
as Iya Agba lay
spent in her mess.
Baba murdered infants in the war
and Iya Agba spat into Osun
a juvenile fool
but what is my own sin that you torment me so?
As flowers to a bee
As feces to a fly
I call you egbon, listen to my cry.

Oh Ika, ancient though you bawl
Irunmole buruku, timeless though you crawl
Have mercy on these children of men
Forget their blunders of before when
they knew of your wrath and unforgiveness.
Accept their offerings
appeasements being made
since before Maami bore me
for they are old and worn
this is a battle you have won.
Aburo, think of me
as you close your eyes in mock
I promise to follow you
To the river
To the market
To the end of the earth if you want
Only wait and play with me.
By Baba’s shriveling loins I swear
Not one scar on your body
Who would dare?
Egbon mi, Aburo mi
Stay
Let me be your protector
Till Iku your accomplice
takes me when my years are done
be-shielding only you.

 

Glossary

Iku -Death

Egbon  – Elder sibling 

Iya Agba – Older mother

Baba – Father

Osun – River goddess of fertility in Yoruba land

Ika – Wicked one

Irunmole buruku – Terrible demon

Maami – My mother

Aburo – Younger sibling

 

N.B.

I’ve always been fascinated with Wole Soyinka and JP Clark’s Abiku poems, and thus this was borne from them both. Wole Soyinka writes from the perspective of a proud Abiku who feels no remorse whatsoever about the pain he causes while JP Clark tells the story from the side of a relative begging the Abiku to stay.

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