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FOREST GUESTS (by Oludipe Samuel)

We must set ears
To the oak; Before earth comes bare,
Walnut-froth suckles the sky - as who would
Await dread on a feathered night,
Wreathe oil-lamp in faint smoke
To offer swollen noses of these silent gods

To wake the path home, wipe
Your knives against the baobab counterpane,
Hear the spliced phrases of sap
Not grumbles of hunters lost,
Silenced in wilted hoots of night children,
Rasps in the vale, unnerved
Beetle-wings and river mussel lean
On shrub-toothed shadows. Cut your sight
And brush your ears alone on the bark;
Yours the healing brew...

Foot for tremor, the knee, hoarfrost
Let steeds - tenuous to sight -
The darker tangles tramp. For sooner
Shall you defy webs of grimace
To stroke enamoured seam of human mysteries
But they mock you, these raised voices
Of forebodings after a barren journey:
New tales - curses prised from the scab -
An avant-garde shock, intricacies spun
On chronic trails where treads came heavy,
Brainwaves drench the drone
Of a passing foreign breeze

On this
State, it shall be - a cold cruel bid
For deities. But there was warmness
Where you trampled dew-pearled leaves,
Impale slices on slivers, sacred

Oh we promise warmth of
Desolate hours, soft receding
Of bristly cairns as the chaste blooming...
But who shall await dread
Where it gazed upon our noses -
Alas, it is night.

(Samuel is a young, notable Nigerian poet)


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