Niyi Osundare


Here where Ol’ Man River

empties its long, long story into the Sea,

its lips heavy with uncharted crossings

Where myths meander their way

through mangrove fables

bearing fragments of upland truths

Here where the River ends its song

let my own begin

I sing, then, of the magic of the Sun

so tropical on this uneven plain

Of alluvial silences brown with the rain,

mellow with Memory’s music

Of the pecan-eyed pelicans of History

nesting in the artificial island between our skins

And cottonfields which drift into the distance

white with power, obscene with Negro sweat

Oh for the countless songs and fables

mothered by this alluvial dirt

Reared between pain and pang

in the outhouse of wounded tribes

Rising strong, drifting North, thunder-clear

brown like the Flood, bluer than the Sea…

In the sand, hoofprints of yesterwars

and I, sojourner, striving hopewards

Between Walker’s songs and the fables of Faulkner