How do I leave the city of my umbilical cord,
at the sound of morning prayers, when the muezzin says the salat,
before the sun revisits my eyes under the eastern hangar of life?
An ending coming; I can feel its throb,
but my aorta does not tell me when the last trumpet will sound,
nor the path before me where the sinkhole lays its ambush.
How do I shut the last door and open a trade link with alien
Or cross the year in the dinghies of future months
and step across the frontiers like seasonal egrets?
How do I abandon the skeletons buried in my hipbone?
Pick my cells of wilful chromosomes,
or chase the rascally child of my wandering to
the den of a famished road?
How do I leave the city to its graffiti of slime,
flee its bugle of infant cry
and disappear in the fading line of distant guitar riff?
Freebies of beauties are waiting by the distant station
like a necklace of motley colours,
their heels like minted hoofs, their lipstick like the nude
of orange flowers that fall like leisurely hailstones.
How do I rein in the lust in my eyes?
How do I, like a miserly coffer, close my eyelids to let evil pass,
but miss the angel of love that is dreamed of?
How do I leave the housewife that has hennaed a rosebud on her lap,
the very one who awaits the daylight of my lover’s look-in,
although her voice chafes the field of my peace?
How do I pack my old feelings in a hencoop
and follow the wind to the mountain head?
There are so many people the city has hurt,
many leaving the darkness of the city on horseback for a foreign night,
in the absence of known skies, forging a galaxy with
constellations of fireflies,
and trafficking a homeland in rucksacks and amnesiac songs.
A multitude camp under the brown awning of a season that
inventing a shift of weather with theatrics of wonders and
narratives of mimic clouds,
their aspiring vines wounded in the skirmishes of trellis.
There are many more emigrating into themselves,
like rains of anguish falling backwards to the sky,
or trees growing inwards, their leaves forgotten in the
alcove of their cells.
Many are disappearing from sight like roads that lose their way,
so many leaving their houses and entering the bitter metaphor
of a stranger’s poem,
to martyr a story already weak with tragic dénouement.
Why should I descend with them the stairs of exile without
the luggage of my soul?
Why should I abandon the beauty under the winter of wrinkled years,
and leave a linear sadness for a joyous crossroads?
Kunle Okesipe currently teaches postcolonial literature at Igbinedion University, Nigeria. His adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s The Interpreters won an Association of Nigerian Authors Adaptation contest. He also won an ANA prize for his adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God. His poetry has appeared in adda (Journal of Commonwealth Writers), Mediterranean Poetry, The Tiger Moth Review, Moonchild Magazine, The Lake, The Rush and others. He can be found at https://twitter.com/ogunnian, https://www.instagram.com/ogunnian/, and https://www.facebook.com/kunle.okesipe.