Our feet have fabricated paces, fallen in a million places
And taken us over miles and milestones.
But our poetry lacked the right rhythm and metre:
Our feet never fell in time with the notes of the skylark.
In a dry land haunted by the wayfarer’s weary songs,
We had little melody to pierce the delirious dark.
But we forged on, long after strength had left our bones,
Long after our heels had started to shed red tears.
We trudged on, singing through tears and fears,
Braving mockingbirds, demoting our screams to groans.
We ate dinner under the cold gaze of the stars;
We drank our spit, rendered our regrets in songs.
And now here we are; here we are!
The spigots have spurted and then spewed their last:
Tears trickle to a drop . . . and then a stop.
This is a good place.
February’s sweet sun rises slowly and softly in the east,
Dances on a river and fetes us with its shimmering feast.
Laughter lands on a hilltop, cadenced and ecstatic;
And a smile swims upstream, blue and beatific.
Somewhere close by, a nightingale strums her guitar.
Of course, this is not paradise.
This is not the roomy palace of solace
That, with racing hearts, we raced out to embrace.
This is not the subject of the promise I essayed
That most intense of nights when I held your eyes
And poured my soul into your ears- and into your soul.
But we are in a good place.
In the living room, a tot sings along with Barney and Friends,
Hugging herself in a dislocated “I love you, you love me.”
She has shaped our world these past twenty-four months!
In the marketplace, we peel naira notes with extra care;
We definitely do not count money in millions.
And yet naira always meets naira in our pockets.
In the house of sickness, we know not the doctor’s name.
Our barricades are sometimes breached by disease;
And yet we can still postpone our dates with drugs!
Yes, we are in a good place.
In a city where sorry souls can’t command a dollar a day,
In a city where many decent heads are drenched in sunny rain,
We produce a rent that more than matches a year’s wages.
We may walk into boutiques and quarrel with price tags
Or look in through windows and shop only in fantasyland.
And yet a king might just try on our clothes.
Besides, the century-old hearth that is my heart
Still sizzles with the elixir of your love.
We surely are in a good place.
Let us rest awhile and thank God that we still can smile
When an entire nation is in need of the peerless commodity.
Sweet Jesus, You have been our sole testimony!
Of course, there is still much ground to cover,
Kingdoms to topple, empires to knock over:
We must match our parents’ exploits or better them!
But . . . we are in a very good place.
Now turn over, sweet lover, and hold me.
It is time to kiss your frown into extinction!
(c) February 13, 2014, JESSE UNOH, for Faith Unoh.
Posted on Facebook on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2014, at 12:37 pm.