THE CRY OF THE RIVER BIRD
(The Ogoni Cleanup)
I will sing for you river bird,
I will try your tenor in my broken bass.
They have stopped me from being a man,
will they also stop me from being a bird?
So I will sing for you,
the harsh sounds that shells make,
when the turtle that lived there has died.
The hangman has loaned us more time so
we now roam the earth as stories.
Stories of a plant who’s scent is it own herbicide.
Now that we fall and the vultures no longer gather,
our lords have come for our cleansing.
But should they not start with their own souls?
When they warned that our waters now kill,
grandpa asked which of us still lived.
There was silence until I whistled the song of the river bird.
The footsteps of the distant past, the song of the fisherman.
The song of the men who lived here before we emerged as their shadows.
The song of our mornings now sounding hoarse in our mourning.
By these watery graveyards of poisoned men,
where our buried umbilicals no longer rest in peace.
Where our Dead cannot decay because we were used as collateral,
when our nation took a loan from greed.
But I will sing for you river bird.
The song of bliss when figs bud, as I fear they may never again.
For no growth can take place here if it’s not their budget,
Our crickets are dead, dusk comes anytime and fear is oxygen.
But don’t step with care expatriates, the real landmines are in our hearts.
If you wash the soot, will their sin also be blotted?
How can you ask for forgiveness when none has sinned?
And how can we start without the beginning?
or did they set us on fire to earn accolades for dowsing the Flames?
We subsist on your promises and we ask for nothing else.
But can we ask if lies don’t come in other flavors!
About the Author
Samson abanni, is passionate about telling African stories through poetry. He made the long list of babishai poetry competition 2018.