ECHE (a dirge for a dead brother)

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I sprawl under the grey umbrella of an avocado tree
Counting time in the dull eyelashes of the sky,
Watching the buffet of whirlwinds snore in gentle rhythms,
And listening to the dumb shrills of my solitude.

I sprawl here where my lone brother and I once sat
And dreamt the dreams of rainbows,
The sweet dreams of a new home…

But Eche has journeyed beyond the college of silence
Beyond the seven valleys and seven rivers
To weave timeless seasons
Before the plumed presence of ancestors!

It is me your younger brother Chiso…
Do you still remember the songs of our childhood?
Do you still remember Akwaugo, the pretty girl you were to marry?
Thick clouds are gathering in my eyes
Soon there will be an avalanche of rainfall!

Switch on the radio of your eardrums,
Hearken to my soul’s songs,
Hearken to my pounding heart, throbbing
And hearken to the silence of my wailing voice.

They say the hen does not forget where it lays it egg
But Echee, you have forgotten where you laid yours!
You sit there, your smiling face watches
As miseries spread and enfold us?

At the birth of dawn, we left for the fields
And returned when the heavens wore a hue of twilight,
Yet our seasons of harvest have been barren
And our endless toils have given birth to baskets of brushwood.

See how death has declared state of quietude in our household!
Dede Ndu, the only hope of my hopelessness
Lost his breath this morning,
Ugo, his wife is a living corpse,
Her tongue full of unvoiced dirges,
And I, your brother Chiso befriend cureless malaria,
Entombed in the womb of lingering agony!

Our thatch-roofed huts lie desolate
Like a kernel without a shell!
Ants and termites have given us quit notice,
Now we are living at the ghost-hamlet,
We sleep like a prodigal fowls!
In our dreams dead men pursue us,
The world has beaten their drums on our heads
While our ears are filled with their wordless curse!

I have sought the presence of the priests
And they have poured rivers of libations.
They have made sacrifices on the altar.
Alas! Their eyes have lost ownership of vision!
The year is impregnated with terminal woes.

And they say the gods are not to blame?
But you have forgotten where you laid your eggs.

meet the poet: Williams Nwadike

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