IN THE PLATEAU
There will be no heroes tonight,
just piles of rotting carcass that once belonged to our beloved
yet I keep running, racing towards a safety not assured.
Yesterday had been an idyllic afternoon;
Mama grounded groundnut on the stone,
Papa was finding fertile seeds to sow,
Joy plaited my hair, while we exchanged stories and giggles.
Had I known, I would have blinked my eyes like shutters of a camera,
repeatedly, to forever capture the moment and have a hardcopy proof of it.
I snap out of yesterday, back into the misery of today
as I run, I ignore the cries of others, uttering their last sounds in this realm screaming “hel….”
Survival of the fittest; Darwin had said but he never lived in this part of Nigeria,
here the survival of the most unfortunate applies,
where I hear the symphony of the screams of my loved dead every time I shut my eyes.
The present held no recourse for me so I zoom back to the past.
We heard blasts like Hades was opening the gates of hell,
“Stay inside” papa shouted and ran towards the gate
but curiosity clipped my ears shut like the proverbial fly and follow I did.
Hidden behind the flower hedge I watched strange men appear,
Papa stood no chance as they spilt his head open
like a watermelon burst open and its seed spilled everywhere.
Mama screamed like a banshee inside the house, alerting the men of her existence.
The strange men walked towards our house,
my feet grew roots where I stood, fear effectively rendered me mute.
They chanted war songs and bragged about their cows as they rushed inside wielding matchets.
I stood and listened as mama and Joy begged and screamed,
I listened and glistened my face with water and salt, till they stopped screaming
like a terrible song in the opera that stopped playing in its climax.
Their cacophony of misery forever itched into my head.
The men left chanting their songs of death off to another door.
I stumble over a stone that snaps me out of my reverie back into the now,
the woman running besides me asks if I am hurt.
I don’t reply, afraid that if I speak she would know I had truly lost myself.
She continues to speak about how lucky we are, to have survived
I slowly stop hearing her voice
as I start reliving yesterday once again in my head.
Yesterday had been an idyllic afternoon
Mama was grounding millet on the stone……
In The Plateau Poem By Chisom Blessing Ozokolie
Poem Written by:
Chisom Blessing Ozokolie