Africans, History

Wole Soyinka: Abiku

Wole-Soyinka2

Wole Soyinka

Abiku

Wanderer child. It is the same who dies and returns again and again to plague the mother – Yoruba belief.

In vain your bangles cast

Charmed circles at my feet

I am Abiku, calling for the first

And the repeated time.

 

Must I weep for goats and cowries

For palm oil and the sprinkled ash?

Yams do not sprout in amulets

To earth Abiku’s limb.

 

So when the snail is burnt in his shell,

Whet the heated fragment, brand me

Deeply on the breast – you must know him

When Abiku calls again.

 

I am the squirrel teeth, cracked

The riddle of the palm; remember

This, and dig me deeper still into

The god’s swollen foot.

 

Once and the repeated time, ageless

Though I puke, and when you pour

Libations, each finger points me near

The way I came, where

 

The ground is wet with mourning

White dew suckles flesh-birds

Evening befriends the spider, trapping

Flies in wine-forth;

 

Night, and Abiku sucks the oil

From lamps. Mothers! I’ll be the

Suppliant snake coiled on the doorstep

Yours the killing cry.

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