NAIJA POETRY 23: A Walk on the Plateau

A Walk on the Plateau
Barkin Ladi, near Jos, Nigeria

walls of cactuses, a dark path:
an invasion of shadows
announces identities of arms
and whispers

shedding names, the women
melt into shadows into lights,
blooming, like melons – voices and shadows
a happy hysteria – benita’s bar

ladi’s night is wrinkled
with cold, importunate, prolonged,
hiding behind the reigning rocks –
a divided view, it turns out

nameless trees stand, somber
chivalry, along the market road, and
two lovers part into two unrevealing

mountains rise like goddesses
fogged in night’s strange grace
over this land where water sprouts
in a taxidermic surprise  

an immeasurable space- these lakes,
these ponds, these scarred biographies
miners have dug up for desire -abandoned now 

on a dark path towards the seminary:
the trees join heads in incestuous
dialogue, widening their roots
into your mind …

you know only a knitting mind like pam
might know the secret of their insular
copulation and the hidden memory
of their names 

but names here are memory of a courtesan:
you will imagine men laying their songs
in a brimming calabash or mine diggers
surrendering fatigue at the ledge
of the thatched dream

riding the wall of cactuses,
nights row by, a body of dreams,
a body of winds –
you see women of sunset, near chi,
returning home, eyes full of breeze…

and you walk this earth breaking certain devotion on these hillocks,
and watching the ground of faith shift,
like us

you walk this earth with that ritual faith for this meaning, this secret,
this stirring desire
that men caress like sadness.

AUTHOR: Akinlabi Peter; born in Ogbomosho town of Oyo State, Nigeria.


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