- Poems for Césaire
Ogoloma—the birds— Your kinsmen are fleeing Home. The market is burning And the shrinehouse has fallen.
Do not return to a place Of emptiness; do not be found In the forests when the axe Of sunlight falls on the cedars.
For those hauled over the Heavy swell, there is always behind The wall, a moment of silence, To remember a place hungry for itself.
Raise your voice at last Above the cyclone: and fill The red earth with songs Falling, petals, without the white ghost. [End Page 252]
Hear the great black cry Of the goddess of history: hear The angry feet shaping the Street with the dust of an uprising.
Aimé— Aimé my brother: his Words in full gallop, are The stones falling from the mountains.
Agbogidi! The pillar that holds our homestead! I hear your foresteps from Ezi to Ihitte— Roots of the old Iroko, your lips that are shaped Into whistlings, still call this lame one to the dance.
The statue from Western Europe, the male cyclop— Is wrought from steel. His Hand is steel. His spirit is steel. [End Page 253]
Obi Nwakanma, a Nigerian by birth, is author of Thirsting for Sunlight, a biography of modernist poet Christopher Okigbo. He is also author of The Horsemen & Other Poems and The Roped Urn, winner of the 1996 Cadbury Prize. He has published in Okike, Vanguard Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. In 2008, St. Louis bestowed on him the Walter J. Ong Award for Distinguished Achievement.