Final Poems of a Ghanian Poet Victim of the Kenyan Terror Attack

By Ghanaina Poet Kofi Awoonor

REUTERS
The body of Nehal Vekaria, a 16-year-old female student who was killed at Westgate Shopping Centre, is cremated in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 22, 2013.

African poet Kofi Awoonor (1935-2013) was among those slain in a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The African Poetry Book Fund is set to publish Awoonor’s latest collection, “Promises of Hope: New and Selected Poems” in 2014. Here, by permission of the publisher, is one of Awoonor’s final poems.

 

ACROSS A NEW DAWN

 

Sometimes, we read the

lines in the green leaf

run our fingers over the

smooth of the precious wood

from our ancient trees;

 

Sometimes, even the sunset

puzzles, as we look

for the lines that propel the clouds,

the colour scheme

with the multiple designs

that the first artist put together

 

There is dancing in the streets again

the laughter of children rings

through the house

On the seaside, the ruins recent

from the latest storms

remind of ancestral wealth

pillaged purloined pawned

by an unthinking grandfather

who lived the life of a lord

and drove coming generations to

despair and ruin

 

*

 

But who says our time is up

that the box maker and the digger

are in conference

or that the preachers have aired their robes

and the choir and the drummers

are in rehearsal?

 

No; where the worm eats

a grain grows.

the consultant deities

have measured the time

with long winded

arguments of eternity

 

And death, when he comes

to the door with his own

inimitable calling card

shall find a homestead

resurrected with laughter and dance

and the festival of the meat

of the young lamb and the red porridge

of the new corn

 

*

 

We are the celebrants

whose fields were

overrun by rogues

and other bad men who

interrupted our dance

with obscene songs and bad gestures

 

Someone said an ailing fish

swam up our lagoon

seeking a place to lay its load

in consonance with the Original Plan

 

Master, if you can be the oarsman

for our boat

please do it, do it.

I asked you before

once upon a shore

at home, where the

seafront has narrowed

to the brief space of childhood

 

We welcome the travelers

come home on the new boat

fresh from the upright tree

 

 

From Promises of Hope: New and Selected Poems,” selected by Kofi Anyidoho, University of Nebraska Press and the African Poetry Book Fund, 2014

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