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ZODML Poetry Corner: 'Dirge for a Dirge Singer'

By ayinde.ayobami on Wed, 13/08/2014 - 21:11

This week's ZODML Poetry corner features a moving elegy by Ayinde Ayobami. Send your poems, short fiction, opinion pieces and reviews to [email protected] to be featured on the blog.

O ma se oo!! So that man too has died?

So death has coerced him out of living?

When? How did he die?

Does it matter?

He obeyed death’s beguiling beckon.

I remember him,

Wrinkly faced, aged mouth intoned in a plangent threnody,

Improvising in anguished lamentations

With a deft sobriety as his forebears had done.

Is he now dead?

The one who quipped Al-Mautu in his solemn chants,

A coward? To have yielded to death’s summon?

Alas, another dirgerer

In unhurried languid tones, as his erstwhile

Iku leers at him from the shadows,

Waiting, waiting to seize him

Seize him vengefully at the appointed time.

Oh harbinger of rigor mortis,

Didn’t we attempt to bribe you?

You scoffed at our mortal pleas,

your quarry already aimed; our dirge singer.

Thou unfallen wrestler of bygone years,

how did you fall to the faceless coward?

Did he pounce on you from behind?

How cruel this vanquisher is?

Not even allowing you pick buba or fila

Before whisking you off in hurried covet.

Fatally inebriated, the swig you took from death’s goblet.

Haa!! Iku ti gba opa ilu lowo re

The timber with largest girth, is always short-lived in the forest

You yearned longevity, who doesn’t?

Al-Mautu disagreed, the Creator refused,

The mouth wished to retain the delicious meat, but the throat disagreed.

The visitor has returned to his dwelling

Your soul; the visitor

Visitor of the body

It eloped in the cordial company of death.

Multitude musings at my mouth

Don’t you tire?

O' marauder of many mortals, even the meek,

Thrusting deceased into the womb of the earth,

Earth the voracious, swallows,

Like cloudy skies to the sun.

Sharp screams of pain tears me out of reverie.

The new dirge singer dirges on robotically,

A newer one at his would-be demise,

After all a dirge for a dirge singer.

  O ma se oo: A popular Yoruba expression that translates as “what a pity” Al-Mautu: Arabic word for "death”; also used in Yoruba vernacular Iku: Yoruba word for “death” Buba and fila: traditional Yoruba outfit: buba is a shirt or smock, and fila is a cap Iku ti gba opa ilu lowo re: a Yoruba expression roughly translated as “death has wrenched the drum stick from his drumming hands” Dirgerer: a word coined by the poet meaning “a dirge singer” Image source

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