Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Pops - circa 1990
I'm sharing this poem because in 5 days it will be 18 years since my father died and this was written for him - my first reader/listener. (It's taken from my collection The Makings of You, published by the fantastic Peepal Tree Press in late 2010). Last week I felt a sudden urge to buy a whole bag of limes and I've been going through them fast. I rationalised it by telling myself I was forestalling any colds that may come, but today it suddenly struck me why; my internal clock was telling me to remember Pops - funny how the littlest things can bring one solace!


His pen moves as fast as darkness scatters.
Three fleshy creases mark his forehead
as he leans pensively forward
like a question mark filled with life.

The cocks have crowed; in the streets
brooms raise dust. I rise early

I want to be the first to see him
smile, see his small, white teeth
expose themselves without inhibition
like nudists on a beach of gums.

Pigeons gather… the sun summons
its light. I head outside.

I can see him before I see him;
yesterday’s paper to his left,
a pen in his right hand
and sheaves of paper awaiting stains

The dew rises like fleeting
possibilities in the new heat.

He’s waiting. I like the song he hums;
the tenor harmony of a Jimmy Smith solo.
Silent, he passes his clean mug to me.
We’ll talk between hot sips of tea.

The kettle boils; loaded
bubbles of speech waiting to burst.

I make two cups: black, no sugar
with half-a-lime squeezed in each.
His mouth forms a vaginal shape as he sips
the heat, the promise of a new day.

Something warm passes from father to son.
Silence becomes an enduring memory.

And this week, I buy seven perfect limes. One
for every new day. I will slice them in two
each morning, squeeze one half for me, and one
half into an empty cup. For the memories.

what i'm reading/listening to
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Mongo Beti


Anne said...

this is beautiful

Dzifa said...

Really enjoyed that, Nii. Tender, poignant and kind of quiet despite the words used to describe the moment. I've got a similar poem knocking around in my head about my grandma, sitting on a verandah in Lagos round about midday with her daily bottle of Star Beer. Remember those litre bottles?