#APoemADay: ‘Nigerian Pastorals’ – Inua Ellams

Inua+EllamsPhotography: inuaellams.com

Nigerian Pastorals
-After Gregory Djanikian.

If Adamu were leaning against a wall
mouth flush with fresh coconut
when trucks screeched to a halt

and Adewunmi were writing her name
in sand, dragging the small stick
when the magazine clicked

and Afoaka were hushing her twins
waving the straw fan back and forth
when the first shots rang out

if Aliyu barefoot by the oranges
were squeezing each fruit for ripeness
when the bullet shattered his cheek

if Akarachi refusing to run
were praying in his room
when the rocket struck the roof

and Azuba in her new hand-stitched hijab
were tucking away stray wisps
when the blast ate her skin

How long would it have to go on then
beginning with A and spilling over
into all the alphabets

before mother sister father child
could bear the same weight
in any faith, in any race,
be mourned with the same tongue.

About Inua Ellams
Inua was born in Nigeria and based in the UK, Inua is a graphic artist, designer, poet and playwright. He has won a number of awards for his plays and poetry, including the The Live Canon International Poetry Prize,Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival, and was also shortlisted for the Brunel Prize for African Poetry. His latest poetry pamphet, #AfterHours, is a collection of poems that re-imagines exisiting British poems in Nigeria.

Visit our website every day in May for our #APoemADay series to celebrate Africa Month.

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