Abiku

 


Abiku



Wanderer child. It is the same child who dies and 

          returns again and again to plague the mother. 

                                                            -Yoruba belief



In vain your bangles cast 

Charmed circles at my feet 

I am Abiku, calling for the first 

And repeated time.



Must I weep for goats and cowries 

For palm oil and sprinkled ask? 

Yams do not sprout amulets 

To earth Abiku's limbs.



So when the snail is burnt in his shell, 

Whet the heated fragment, brand me 

Deeply on the breast - you must know him 

When Abiku calls again.



I am the squirrel teeth, cracked 

The riddle of the palm; remember 

This, and dig me deeper still into 

The god's swollen foot.



Once and the repeated time, ageless 

Though I puke, and when you pour 

Libations, each finger points me near 

The way I came, where



The ground is wet with mourning 

White dew suckles flesh-birds 

Evening befriends the spider, trapping 

Flies in wine-froth;



Night, and Abiku sucks the oil 

From lamps. Mothers! I'll be the 

Suppliant snake coiled on the doorstep 

Yours the killing cry.



The ripest fruit was saddest 

Where I crept, the warmth was cloying. 

In silence of webs, Abiku moans, shaping 

Mounds from the yolk.


Written by Wole Soyinka
Lexxis Lexxis
18-21, F
Mar 13, 2010