”You were born after rain” you were told
by the grown ups that buried your umbilical cord
Pointing you to a group of plantain trees in the backyard.
This is your birth story
Cradled safely in her arms
She baptised you
In the Jordan of her tears
Whilst the priest watched on vainly with holy water
At the throes of mother.
Moonless night and dateless it was
Life was sorry for such tragic role
In the scripts you were called to play
by the thunders that rumbled
And the night birds that mourned.
You grew gracefully like palm fronds.
Measured your height with the tall bamboo standing on your toes.
Your fingers turned green from keeping cassava plantations.
Life kissed hard your cracked lips
That bled juju lyric
For the spirited drummers in your chest.
Songs themed with courage and hope as you paddled on the limpopo
With savoury tales for whoever cared to listen.
Your tattered clothe on colt back
Saddled by hunger riding triumphantly through your veins into the caves of your mahogany eyes.
The white of your teeth
That rivals the silver moon
When her smile shreds her veil.
Your fart like the smoking chimneys of oil refineries
When you return from the stream at eve
Water pot balanced on your head
As you sing like you fetched the sun into it.
How Africa fondles the soles of your feet with the tuft of her grasslands!
She tries your feet with the heat of the sahara sands
But it was Africa, jealous mother
Preparing you to stand before kings, little one.
Your charm amulets jingling like the tambourine
chasing the fear of dawn away.
Eyelids like the strings of the kora
strumming your doubtful heart into rest
like a poised hunter whose kill within rage is sure.
It is the way you danced alone when your seine was heavy with bounties from Oshun
Its your laughter after acts of mischief
Hope is the way you squat by the fireside scribbling on the earth all the papers that owe you praise songs while you wait for the soup to cook.
Strength was in the way you swam against the raging
tide of the River Ethiope first light to the other side to gather snails for the market.
Survival was your canoe floating from the horizon of the Argungu River
Without paddles
The waves leading you home
Where no one missed you.
Bravery is in the way you pout
chasing the leopard with a rod among your cattle with the Maasai chant half-understood.
Cry no more beside the giant anthill with your shattered water pot mocking your faith.
Cry no more,
For mother’s prayer echoes
Remaking, weaving paths.
Searching in the forbidden heights
For a crown
That befits your scarred brow.
A god in mud garment
As time washes you into the
Awe that left mother breathless
And the earth, as you tell this story.
-Martins Deep
30, a collection of poems by Jaachi Anyatonwu
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishers Inc. Jaachị is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.

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