When all ceases
And hands and feet twitch in sleep
The guttural bird groans
Perched on a pole behind I-am-afraid’s house,
She couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t doze.
In the day, I-am-afraid sells bean cake
My Mothers asked her some, she declined …
She forgot the eyes that govern at night!
The guttural bird sits now
Atop the pole behind her house
Preventing her sleep it grunts
The eerie call of the deathbird, Kowee!
Eagles strangely, shrill in the dark, shriek!
The guttural birds groan, the deathbird cries: Kowee!
Let those who tend their sick beware
Let them stay away for Death prowls outdoor
Let them stay awake and clog the ears of their sick birds
With cotton dipped in palm oil …
Lest their spirits wander off to the calls
Summons of my Mothers’ birds!
Have you, I-am-afraid, ears?
If you survive this day
If you last through tonight
Two hundred wraps of bean cake
You must take to the Mothers …
Have you ears, young woman?
Olanihun Opeyemi Joe
My Mothers, the avian …
1 May 2018