(For Professor Isidore Diala, Teacher, Friend and Muse, for his croaky rumbling laughter that completes an aspect of creation)
And what more can I do since I'm only a man?
A small man painfully insignificant.
I'm no nightingale else I would trouble the quiet of the night
With adulations that never flatter; songs that marry both poetry and truth.
Were I a kiwi, I would fly back into your past
And erase any memory of suffering
But why shall I?
The scars on your body
As you got swallowed by books in Cambridge and elsewhere
Grew out and became the stars we see today.
Or were I an eagle, I would mount on your wings and soar a(way)
But I doubt whether I would keep up with your pace
For there are tired eagles and eagles
But I'm just a vulture
And I've chosen to encircle where the catch of great hunters lie
To, as a self-appointed minstrel, sing
For you and for the world you en(word)
Maybe, I just hope, the people could see you whole
Moments of your absence, sweet soul...
What else could be truer than these virgin lines?
Snapshot of hollow days
Capturing our wrinkled visions
In the eloquence of its translucent annotation
We, gazing and groping, watch as a punctuated silence
Descending from the punctured cloud
Threatened to stifle the air you left behind
The corrugated laughter of our lips
Had to master the symphony of temporary numbness
Till time's ripe
Till we’re awakened by the song of your return
The days you spent away from us were
Colour of leafs on frowning harmattan days
Dried–grey and faltering–falling
But like hope of rain to-come
We held onto the skeleton of the things we shared
Waiting and hoping that
August would hit the earth with waters
The skeleton would receive flesh and freshen up
Words would come from you, and
Did you know what happened in the day of Ezekiel?
Breathe on its withered nostrils
The thing between dreaming and dream–in, I've learned
Like the edentulous mouth of a god-not-forsaken old woman
Does not invent pain but paint and art
For it was, and still is
How magnet kisses metal
Separated they may seem
Yet, they drag each other closer for love and belonging
Or should I say each drags itself nearer for a touch that would last?
The moments of your absence, teacher and friend
Is winter; freezing and soulless
But you know, it prepares us for the abiding sweetness of summer
It, just like the beginning of everything beautiful
Announces your return to us
And now, here you are
Among us; your friends and brothers
Little creatures of a not-little god
Need we say welcome to you? he, who always is ours
Anuonye Chibueze Darlington, teacher and writer, writes about the many forms and colours the human heart could possess. Last year his work was shortlisted by the Ibadan Poetry Foundation. His short stories, essays and poems have appeared on Brittle Paper, Coal, Black Boy Review and Storried.