Published May 1st, 2023
by Michael Achile Umameh
(Lokoja, Kogi, Nigeria)
Odoba-ọgagwu, I ask for a garden in a valley below
where I can hear the burble of a river's gentle flow
and a darling little thatched cottage set on the brow
of a hill where water hyacinth and wild hibiscus grow
I wish to live many years, free from the hates
on the streets and on tweets, and tend cabbages,
oranges, and make my rhymes like mixed vegetables
Onuwo, give me, Ube tree full of birds of many plumages
Let the river moisten the earth beneath my feet
Make my lemons sweet, the lime sour to the teeth
I wish to have a field, a few books to flourish with
and retrievers that spring onto my knees and sit
For Ocholi, I will plant an Iroko, tall and grand
and live off the loamy soil tilled by my own hand
Life may be rough, dour, and sour; may it not be bland
For cathartic is the universe's operatic nightly band
I will rise, dance, and dare, and sing of nature's nurture
And ask, who designed the wonders of patterns and colour?
Whose idea is civilisation's Brutalist architecture of torture?
Ọgagwu, this soulful ode, is my libation and a thankful gesture.
Michael Achile Umameh is a Catholic priest, a published poet, and social commentator. He is an eclectic reader of all genres of literature and an avid promoter of Indigenous African Literature and Ethnomathematics of the Igala speaking people of Nigeria. His published collections of poems are Memoir of the Reluctant Prodigal and The Mills of the Gods and Other Rented Tears. He holds a doctorate in Mathematics Education.
This poem is included in Poetry World #6, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.
Previously published in Africa Poetry Magazine:
The City that Never Sleeps
by Amara Nwuneli
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