for the dark swallows everything, but light

there were days i thought about that night ride/back to the other side, the canoe bobbing/as though recalling drumbeat of your words/paddle in youpele’s hand inseminating dread/the ripples fleeing from us in agitation/as children from a fierce masquerade/thinking, the dark ingesting your lonely home/if those were not signs of a departure/… the dark swallows everything, but light/distance swallows everything, but a road/was it your heart that stood ever defiant?/as your porch stood watch over us all/was it your voice the joyful waters echoed?/did i leave still gripping the pathway/to you, my rough palm in yours,/palmprints holding on to palmprints?/…the river was dark, our continent, under siege/as a face burnt from seeking god in sunglare/or the riches beneath us on which we defecate/my heart has grown too dark for night/tongue too still for silence between two rows/of a paddle/for a river whose depths i cannot tell/holds two worlds apart, now i know why/…away from you and the loneliness you masked/i have imagined you standing and not sitting/standing and not lying down like the dead/for your words hold props to keep a name/standing, light to keep a poem burning/for there is no darkness in the poet/his hand is the lighted wick of a lantern/his words are waters of a river the wind/invokes into dance; how your light/falls upon me, as though the stars/and moon fall upon us and will not die/…no matter what the prosaic crickets tweet/no matter what the reeds and tides chant/no matter what the loose earth holds beneath/this solemn side of life’s riverside/as we plant our feet too young to know/into the courtyard where ancestors gather/to receive all canoes carrying priests, poets/and pilgrims alike who arrive at shore…

amu nnadi

amu nnadi is the author of six collections of poetry. He’s the Resident Poet of Port Harcourt Literary Society. He was described by JP Clark as “… a revelation” for his book, a river’s journey (2016). His collection of poetry, through the window of a sandcastle (2013), which was runner up for the Nigeria Prize for Literature and won the ANA Poetry Prize, both in 2013, was winner of the inaugural Glenna Luschei African Poetry Prize in 2014.

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