The Village Bird

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by Ebele Chizea 

A long time ago
in a land far, far away
I arose to distant hills
in translucent shades of blue
In the backdrop
Black birds soared
flapping their wings to the rhythm of their coos
They spread gossip about other towns
Grandma listened, nodded and suddenly went:
“okay!”

I only got the part about Emekuku
What happened at Emekuku?
Grandma’s lips were sealed
It was older people’s business

I long for the days when birds could talk
and we took the time to decipher
When chickens and goats co-existed with humans
on the front porch
Swearing away the heat
each in its own tongue
Longing for harmattan…

Sitting under moonlit skies
Listening to a particular tale of duality
as corn roasts with crackling sounds under the fire…

Chanting:
“udara mu cha nda cha cha cha nda…”
sniffling at the girl whose stepmother starved her
and who prays for the udara to ripe so she can eat

In a famine Udara dwarfs itself to feed girl
and grows infinitum when step mother sings to it

We cheer!

It’s bedtime

And with a belly filled with corn and ube
I move lethargically towards my mat
determined to rise early
to decode what the bird from Emekuku had said.


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3 responses »

  1. Wooowwww!!! This is easily amongst the most lyrical and nostalgic pieces I’ve read in a while. The lavish fusing and application of our antique Igbo mytho-poetic heritage does speak for it self–and quite marvelously. I can’t help but also remarking that the last couplets “In a famine Udara dwarfs itself to feed girl / and grows infinitum when step mother sings to it / We cheer! / It’s bedtime / And with a belly filled with corn and ube / I move lethargically towards my mat / determined to rie early / to decode what the bird from Emekuku had said”—are so resonating and rich with an undeniable innocence of time. Its nothing but pure creative-intelligence at work.

  2. ok, i am IN LOVE with this piece. I swear this caputured a period of my childhood i words and rhythms left my heart longing to turn the hands of time. You are blessed… Thank you for this. May Anyanwu’s rays never fade from your soul..Daalu.

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