They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?
He saw the portrait of his enemy, offered
At auction in a street he journeyed nigh,
That enemy, now late dead, who in his life-time
Had injured deeply him the passer-by.
“To get that picture, pleased be God, I’ll try,
And utterly destroy it; and no more
Shall be inflicted on man’s mortal eye
A countenance so sinister and sore!”
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
I call on those that call me son,
Grandson, or great-grandson,
On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts,
To judge what I have done.
Coming and going these several seasons,
Do stay out on the baobab tree,
Follow where you please your kindred spirits
If indoors is not enough for you.
But that one air for all that throng! And yet
How wondrously the magic strain went through
Those thousand hearts! I saw young eyes, that knew
Only the fairest sights, grow dim and wet,
While eyes long fed on visions of regret
Beheld life’s rose, upspringing from its rue;
For some, the night-wind in thy music blew,
For some, the spring’s celestial clarinet!