“Going Home” by Lukpata Lomba Joseph

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Going Home

i.My children used to singand dance under multipleeyes of the sky; the skyperches on my children’sbodies with a bold beaming eye.My children caress the headsof snakes and scorpionswith their delicate feet;they sing songs to complement

the chirp of crickets.

ii.My children hideand seek under the branchof a fallen mango tree;moonlight spurts downto bleach the night.My children scare the night tourist offdried corn-cobs—he skulks behindthe yam barn,legs it out whenmy children sing

hymns to the moon.

My children used to flauntthe cheap black on theirfaces; my children unearthmore black from their bodies

with uli; my children

parade their blackness;

jigida affirms the flexibility

of my daughter’s waist.

iii.We have left ourhomes,we are skirtinga foreign lake.We have left ourhomes; the moon is tiredof slathering white

on my child’s body.

My child is tiredof moonlight stories;my child doesnot want to knowwhy the tortoise has a cracked shell;he doesn’t want to know how the doglost a marathon while

lusting for bones.

iv.We are skirtinga foreign lake.In our new okra garden, worms havegrown into snakes,and snakes coilround to feed

on their tails.

The moon plansto cough heaton my child.My child has learntto moult offher black like a snake;my child drains

out her melanin.

v.The broken spine of a palm

frond is

no longer a sign.The night touristchases away mychild’s song;the night touristsmacks my child’s head; he speaks witha voice stuffedwith concrete.

The brokenspine of a bananaleaf is no longera sign.My child willnot hide underthe fallen roost of a mango tree,and my child willnot play Hideand Seek in thevillage square

at night.

vi.The brokenspine of a banana leaf is no longer a sign;who dare singand dance at night?O dare! Who daretouch the tail

of a scorpion? O dare!

What else is free of dreadwhen an ant’s bitekills faster thana viper’s powder?What else dowe read fromthe sun wheneverythinghas learnt

how to kill.

vii.We are skirtinga foreign lake.My child no longerwelcomes the new moon with a song;my child cannotbear the weight

of jigida; my child

cannot soil her

fingers with uli.

viii.Take me home;my child wantsto mash the softbones of smokedrat in white soupwithout countingdown to the grave,and my child wantsto taste the tipof the ripe mango fruitprescribed by a bat’sbite as sweetest,without fear

of foreign names.

ix.Take me home.Get two silvertrumpets; let’scall back the birds—let my child bendhis head to swallowmy words,and let my child’schest swell withmy riddles;let my child knowthe secret of a toad’s

haste in the daytime.

x.Take me home;I want to plot progressagainst the sun—let me coverthe mouth of my heapswith sisal leaves;let me stop the sun from venting wrathon the blooming shoots

of my buried tubers.

I want to buyfive gallons of morningpalm wine with twonaira coins,and I want to burybush meat withpalm wine withoutthe fear of foreign names,and let me lie on coldbamboo bed listeningto the song of batsas they ricochetalong the eaves,

making love.

xi.Get two silver trumpets;we shall gather the birds.I want to senddown a slice of roastedyam with crushed

arokeke, bell pepper

and red palm oil,and let malaria shriek at the mention

of dogonyaro, and let

lemon grass killthe worms in my

stomach, let moringa

repair my body,and let bitter koladrain wild energyfrom the body of snakesthat play pranks aroundmy house with their

newly-acquired poison.

Notes:arokeke (Yoruba also utazi in Igbo) = bush buckbitter kola= garcinia koladogonyaro (Hausa) = neemjigida (Igbo) = waist beadsuli (or uri) (Igbo) = traditional designs drawn on the body or walls of buildings

Lukpata Lomba Joseph is Nigerian. He currently resides in Port

Harcourt. His work has appeared in some journals/magazines including

Jacar Press’s One, Misfit Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal,
Squawk Back Journal, The Collidescope
and elsewhere. He is a Best of

the Net nominee.

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