By Tolu Ogunlesi
“We are refugees fleeing from the excesses of our parents.” — Dambudzo Marechera
Shall we envy them who set forth at dawn?
Dawn, when cohabitation
was the biggest crime
good and evil could jointly muster.
They went to bed with yesterday’s sun
that they might rise, well before today’s,
and set forth, as the tip of day
light’s tongue licked the sky awake.
But as for me and my house
we shall set forth as midnight’s babies,
by the ill-packed bags of emergency.
Midnight, when Crime and Innocence beat
with the single heart of siamese twins.
They sing to us
of the need to appease Somnus early;
they, barbers to whom wisdom
has entrusted her grey Afro,
patrons with whom dawn
perfected the strip-tease.
Pity — our gift to them,
our peace offering to all who will never realize
just how many cubes of courage have gone
into these cups of childly wisdom
that steam in our hands.
Early, at the feast of dawn, they gathered
up the kitchen, and set forth
on their illustrious journey
forgetting the fate that tomorrow awaits
manna smuggled in bags of pilgrimage.
and the manna died.
And we, who could not set forth at dawn
have joyously settled for midnight
having little to lose, and everything to gain
from time and chance, masked deities
of this hour of anomy.