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Poems
A Plea
(1965 / Abor, Volta Region, Ghana)

A Plea

Agbo da ze me da na nyi o*
Lakle dome gbaba ebe yeda ami wu egbo**

a voice out from somewhere
calls on the bruised Heart to wait no more
ask the wanderer, ask him
down in the thistles of the desert
what did he find

the hunter has returned
humming tunes of loneliness
ask the hunter, ask him
deep in the turbulent estuary
what did he see

a woman dressed in the pain of anguish
tells the rain come and beat me
ask the woman, ask her
why she carries the bitterness of tears

a child in the agony of hunger
greets the priest with songs of sorrow
ask the child, ask him
why dirge lingers on his tongue

there is a bad taste on my tongue
to whom should I complain

I am told the blood in my veins
it can be traced to a Dawn
somehow, I am not lost in my doom
so, Grandfathers here I come
nursing swollen knees

in these hands are two white cocks
they are for the knowing and unknowing Man
to hold the Calm for my broken soul
tell Dzogbese Lisa*** I have no palm to cover my nakedness
so here, I kneel before the Gates of father’s gods
pleading to relearn the wisdom
I abandoned many seasons ago

those who do not drink among Saints
do not break into a restless run
to drive against the new Dawn
my dance my steps are on trembling legs
like one deprived of dreams

hear me Tutelary Spirits
hear the funeral songs of my soul
look deep into the tears in my eyes
count not the lost decades of pleasures
but look at these bleeding arms
and weave me a rope to go to heaven

come with defetsui**** leaves for the asperges
assure me of the promise of early Morning Dews
and tack away from the hyenas hopes of wingless birds
grant this lips seasons of new songs
the ultimate song of joy
of sweet scents of Home

*An Ewe poetic expression meaning, the pot used in cooking the ram is not big enough to cook the cow.
**An Ewe poetic expression meaning, the lean lion is not comparable to a fat goat.
***Dzogbese Lisa among the Ewes of Ghana is Fate of the Creator Being
****Defetsui leaves among the Ewes of Ghana is a sweet-scented leave used for purification in the Yewe shrine

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